The Spartans didn’t win Tuesday’s game in the first quarter, but their early exploits made it difficult for the Huskies to come all the way back three periods later.
The third-seeded Spackenkill High School boys basketball team scored the game’s first 10 points on the way to beating visiting and sixth-seeded Highland 47-41 in the Section 9 Class B quarterfinals.
“We’ve been struggling as of late, the last couple games, so it feels good to get back on track, just in time,” senior guard Marc Horvath said after contributing a game-high 12 points, as well as eight rebounds and three steals.
Spackenkill (12-7) will travel to Highland Falls to play second-seeded James I. O’Neill in a sectional semifinal on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Turnovers and missed shots by both teams littered the early minutes of Tuesday’s game, though the Spartans were able to gain their composure first.
Josh Riley (nine points, 14 rebounds) connected on a turnaround jumper to give Spackenkill an early 10-0 cushion before Bo Garcia’s free throw 5:04 into the game gave the visitors their first point. David George soon added another foul shot to account for the Huskies’ lone points in the quarter, and the Spartans started the second quarter with a 12-2 advantage.
“I was thrilled with the way we played defense,” said Spackenkill head coach Terry Feeley, whose team held Highland (10-9) without a field goal for the opening 9:36 and used a late 8-0 run in the second to head into halftime ahead 24-11. “To Highland’s credit, you knew they were coming back sooner or later.”
The Huskies did just that.
Though Spackenkill twice led by 17 points in the third period — five straight Horvath points put the Spartans ahead 30-13, and they later led 32-15 — Highland scored 11 straight points, spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth, to pull within 34-30.
On the way to a 14-for-23 night from the line, Spackenkill missed enough foul shots down the stretch to allow Highland to stick around. Highland used a full-court press to cause several late turnovers, and the Huskies pulled to within 45-41 thanks to a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining.
In the end, though, the Huskies’ comeback bid fell short, and the Spartans moved on to the next round.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t shoot well in the first quarter, it was the whole game,” said Highland head coach Mike Milliman, whose team was led by Garcia’s 10 points. “We were 4 of 23 from 3-point land. We were 5 of 19 or 20 from the free-throw line. You don’t win many games that way.
“But we stuck with it and played hard-nosed defense, and the kids just kept on working.”