Pine Plains is looking to make history today.
The Section 9 champion Bombers will be seeking their first berth in the boys basketball state semifinals when they play Section 11 champion Stony Brook School at 2 p.m. at SUNY Old Westbury in a Class C regional final. The state semifinals will take place Friday in Glens Falls.
“Obviously (Stony Brook School) is a good team to get this far and we know they’ll be prepared,” Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto said. “We have to play our game. We’ve been playing well. If we play our game, work the ball inside and have an inside-out game with our outside shooters … we’ll be OK.”
Pine Plains, which won its third straight Section 9 Class C crown this year, as well as the Mid-Hudson Athletic League title, is the last team from Dutchess County still alive in the state playoffs. The last team from Dutchess to win a state title was Millbrook in Class D in 1999.
Currently on a 17-game winning streak, Pine Plains (19-2) is averaging 70.6 points per game this season while allowing 47.0 points per game. Its only losses were to Section 9 Class B champion Marlboro in the season opener (Pine Plains avenged the loss in the MHAL final) and Green Tech from Albany. The Bombers’ 63-40 win over Section 1 champion Palisade Prep in the regional semifinals was Pine Plains’ first-ever win in state tournament play.
The Bombers are well known for their size — all five starters are 6-foot-2 or taller –but they are also known for their skill. Six-foot-three senior point guard Justin Cooper, who was named Player of the Year by the Dutchess County Basketball Coaches Association last week, averages 20.3 points, 6.5 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. Six-foot-eight junior swingman Tyler Lydon, who has already received numerous Division I looks and offers, averages 16.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game. Tyler’s brother, 6-9 senior Zach Lydon, has emerged this season with 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
“We know we need to play like we have been, hard and aggressive,” Zach Lydon said. “They have some shooters and don’t handle the pressure well so we need to get our hands in their face and bring intense defense and, other than that, just play our game and move the ball.”
Six-foot-six senior Adam Miller averages 8.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Six-foot-two junior guard Dakota Piazzi, who replaced 6-4 Alejandro Ayala after the latter suffered an wrist injury, provides ball control and defense.
Stony Brook School, which defeated Section 8 champion Friends Academy 43-34 in a regional semifinal, qualified for its first state tournament since 2010. In that game, 6-6 Andy Daniel had 16 points for the Bears. According to Newsday, Daniel is a national-level sailor who was born in New Jersey and lived the last two years in Thailand.
“It will be good for our big guys to have another big guy to bang around with a little bit,” LoBrutto said.
Pine Plains player Rob Galm’s family organized two coach buses, which will transport Bombers fans to the regional final.
“The community support has been amazing,” said LoBrutto, who is a 1999 graduate of Stissing Mountain High School in the Pine Plains district.