Class AA Wednesday Reactions
I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. Or overly poetic. Or overly anything, really.
This write-up will not do it justice. Neither will talking to your friends who were there. You really just had to be there for yourself.
Thirty-two minutes weren't enough to settle the Class AA semifinal between Guilderland and Columbia. Neither were 36, 40, 44 or 48.
It took five overtimes and 52 minutes of game play for Guilderland to come out on top, 102-98, on Wednesday night at the Times Union Center.
The win will send the Dutchmen to the Class AA Boys’ final on Monday against Green Tech, who defeated Shenendehowa, 58-52, in the second game.
My first impressions as I sat watching were that we were all witnessing something special. When the game finally did end, every fan, whether in red or in blue, stood up and cheered. The crowd knew what was going on.
Honestly? I was happy for Guilderland, who has four seniors in its starting lineup. I wouldn’t wish for any career to end in that fashion. I remember how my own career ended. It was far less dramatic, so I couldn’t even imagine being a senior and losing in that way.
I felt for the Columbia seniors who did. And for Devils’ head coach Jim Obermeyer, who was coaching his last game.
I felt for Jahlil Nails, the Columbia junior star who led all scorers with 41 points - despite missing all of the third and fourth overtimes with a lower leg injury. He tried to come back briefly in the fifth, but was hardly able to walk. He put his team on his back in the second half as Columbia overcame a 10-point deficit to even get to overtime. To see him with his head in his hands and unable to help in the final moments – well, it was hard to watch.
I learned the name of Austin Miller, the Columbia senior guard who had 16 points, mostly in the overtime sessions. He had just 41 points all season going into last night, and he carried the team in Nails’ absence. He hit a three at the end of the second overtime to send it to a third, and he used an array of pivot moves and fadeaway jumpers that awed the crowd.
I was very impressed by Billy Floyd. The Guilderland senior guard hit three treys. He made 9 of 11 attempts at the foul line. Most of them came with the game on the line. He stepped up and delivered in a very high-pressure situation. The rest of his teammates were just 8-32.
The referees also deserve kudos. They let the players who played this great game decide its outcome. Only one player, Guilderland’s Andrew Platek, fouled out.
As for a game summary of sorts… Columbia came back from a double-digit deficit and had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Elijah Lott had his drive to the hoop stopped when he lost the handle on the ball.
Platek blocked a Nails’ shot at the end of the first overtime while Lott blocked DeMoulin at the end of the second.
DeMoulin repaid the favor at the end of the fourth.
It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It’s a good thing for the Dutchmen that the final is Monday. Lots of rest will be needed to gear up for Green Tech.
You can read more here from James Allen of the Times Union.
Green Tech 58, Shen 52
This game was supposed to start at 7:30. It didn’t start until nearly 9:00. I don’t know if the wait helped calm nerves or helped to bring them about.
The game went kind of like we thought it would. Green Tech tried to overwhelm Shen with their athleticism. They pressed, they pushed the tempo, and they out-jumped the Plainsmen.
With the exception of a few wasted possessions, Shen handled the ball pressure just fine. They were willing to run with Green Tech. They just didn’t hit shots that they usually hit. Kevin Huerter had 16 points, but he had to work for everything he got.
Shen got good play from interior big man, Brandon Fischer, who had 13. But it didn’t help that Erik Kromer was severely limited due to illness. Shen’s interior depth didn’t come into play as a result.
Green Tech hit five threes, including three by Najee Ward. Ward had a team-high 15 points. He’s the team’s fourth-leading scorer on the season. He had just 14 triples for the season. He stepped up big and looked really confident in his outside shot.
Remember it was him who hit the big jumper to put away Shaker in the quarterfinals.
I think Shen’s game plan was to force outside shots and not allow Green Tech to slash. It worked to perfection, except that the Eagles hit almost everything from outside last night.
Sometimes you have the right game plan. And the other team has the perfect counter.
Last night, Green Tech did.
It was a great night of basketball. Fans who saw both games definitely got their $6 worth. The TU Center is an amazing venue to play these games.
The final is going to be great. Guilderland is another team who can shoot it with anyone. They have interior depth too.
Will Green Tech be able to replicate last night’s shooting performance?
We’ll find out Monday.