GLENS FALLS — It was a time to celebrate. It was a time to be alone.
Shenendehowa boys' basketball coach Tony Dzikas was all smiles after the Plainsmen rallied for a 64-61 win over Green Tech in the Section II Class AA boys' final at Cool Insuring Arena today.
He shook hands and hugged each of his players after they received their championship patches -- embracing his son Devin a little harder -- and then graciously handed the championship plaque to his two senior captains, Jake Reinisch and Lucas Seyoum.
"To see them enjoy this, for me I couldn't get out of the gym fast enough," Dzikas said. "I wanted to come in here [locker room], I wanted to have a private moment by myself and then I wanted to address them. It was emotional."
Shenendehowa (No. 1, 21-2) captured its fourth Class AA title in six years after playing behind the Eagles (No. 2, 15-6) throughout the contest.
The Plainsmen hadn't scored in the fourth quarter and were down by seven with 5:24 to go. Seyoum then scored 10 of his 15 points down the stretch, and junior guard Andrew Martin buried a 3-pointer to knot the contest at 58 with 2:48 left.
"Lucas put the team on his back when everyone else needed him. He took it to the hoop I don't know how many times," Martin said. "He took it to the hoop and he got it done."
Seyoum, the Class AA tournament MVP, scored Shen's first six points of the fourth quarter before Martin's trey. Green Tech reclaimed the lead, but Seyoum scored the next two buckets to put the Plainsmen up by 62-60 with 1:26 left.
As time ticked away, neither team was able to score until Green Tech's Mazziah Thorpe hit the front end of a one-and-one with just 9.2 seconds left. Thorpe's second free throw was no good though, and the Eagles eventually fouled Luke Lavery. Lavery hit both foul shots with 3.4 seconds showing on the clock. Green Tech pushed the ball past midcourt, but the Eagles' desperation heave missed the rim at the buzzer.
"I noticed that we were down and we needed something big," Seyoum said. "Green Tech hit a couple 3's at the beginning, so I had to do something in the fourth quarter to help the team."
This is the second title for Seyoum.
"I won it as a sophomore, I didn't really contribute as much as I would like to, so it feels amazing as a senior," Seyoum said.
All-tournament selection Thorpe led Green Tech with a game-high 20 points. Demani Benjamin added 12 points for the Eagles, 6-foot-9-inch force Justin Owens -- in foul trouble throughout the game -- finished with 11 points and Joshua Rodriguez dropped in 10.
Martin, an all-tournament selection, finished with 19 points for Shenendehowa, including five 3-pointers. Lavery was the only other double-digit scorer for the Plainsmen with 11.
As the top seed, Shenendehowa didn't surprise many observors with its post-season run. But with only two seniors on the squad, to win a sectional title against a much taller lineup in Green Tech may have been a surprise to some.
"I think a lot of people looked at what we had coming back and said 'They're the favorites.' Maybe not, but they certainly weren't going to count them out," Dzikas said. "We have enough players that can do enough things. We're hard to guard, we play hard all the time and we're tough to put away, as you saw tonight."
After seeing his team battle through eight ties and 13 lead changes in the Section II final and his team come out on top, it is easy to understand Dzikas' desire for an early exit from the celebration.
"I think I've been working hard at this for almost two decades and I'm not going to say I don't deserve anything, but it's not about that," Dzikas said. "It's about the kids. And when you get a group of kids that buy in and your son is one of them, it's awesome. It's a great thing."
Shenendehowa will face the Section III champion 2:30 p.m. next Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in regional play.
Colonie's Marcus Shelton, Niskayuna's Sean St. Lucia and Green Tech's Owens were the other members of the all-tournament team.
SHENENDEHOWA 64, GREEN TECH 61
Green Tech 22 10 15 14 – 61
Shenendehowa 18 16 15 15 – 64
Green Tech scoring: Benjamin 5-5-12, Rodriguez 2-5-10, Hyman 1-1-3, Thorpe 7-5-20, Walton 0-1-1, Owens 3-4-11, Johnson 2-0-4. Shenendehowa scoring: Espinal 0-0-0, Martin 7-0-19, Lavery 3-4-11, Seyoum 7-1-15, Schnitzer 0-1-1, Dzikas 3-0-7, Courtney 1-1-3, Reinisch 3-2-8, Shea 0-0-0. Scoring totals: Green Tech 20-16-61, Shenendehowa 24-9-64.