Maine-Endwell rode Kyle Gallagher’s 27-point, 10-rebound, four-assist outing to a 56-36 rout of Binghamton on Saturday and a berth in the Mirabito STOP-DWI Holiday Classic’s Regional Division I title game.
Gallagher accounted for 13 of the Spartans’ first 17 points at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena on an afternoon Binghamton never led and the final tie was 4-4.
M-E advances to the final at 7:15 Monday night against either Johnson City of Fayetteville-Manlius.
The Patriots drop into the third-place game at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Patriots mounted a mild surge to draw within 26-19 three minutes into the third quarter, but Gallagher answered with nine points through completion of the quarter to help M-E bring a 40-21 advantage into the fourth.
“Right from the outset he definitely wanted to play in the championship game Monday night,” Spartans coach Bill Ocker said. “He definitely carried us today.”
Alec Wisniewski contributed 14 points and five rebounds for M-E, which rolled to the win despite 38-percent shooting. Andre Hawkins topped Patriots scorers with 10 points, and his team converted a chilly 32 percent of its shots.
It became evident early that Gallagher would heed his coach’s urging to assert himself on the offensive end.
He opened scoring by converting an assist from brother Adam to the post, and tacked on the final seven points of the opening period on a three-point play, an interior move off a second consecutive assist from brother Drew, and a roll to the rim for a lefty finish to make 11-4.
A short jump shot by Jake Sinicki 2:22 before halftime made for the widest first-half margin, 21-9, and it was 21-11 at the half.
Sophomore guard Hawkins’ second field goal of the third quarter had Binghamton within 26-19, and sparked a bit more of that take-charge attitude by Gallagher.
He converted on the interior, and then from beyond the arc to make it 31-19, cashed two free throws for a 36-19 difference, and closed the quarter by coaxing in a leaner from the lane with two seconds remaining and it was 40-21.
Of the timing of his season-high scoring effort, Gallagher said: “Coach was telling me to get more aggressive, and we had people finding me open with good passes all around. I tried to be more aggressive because I knew I wasn’t scoring that much. We hadn’t been doing that well, so I tried something different today and it worked out for us.”
Ocker said: “He’s one of those kids who is so unselfish that you’ve got to pound on his chest and tell him, ‘Be aggressive.’ We have multiple kids who are like that and multiple kids who are capable of having the type of game that Kyle did today.”
Just for good measure, Gallagher opened fourth-quarter scoring by converting inside off a baseline inbound, and then winged in a 3-pointer from the corner before yielding to Wisniewski, who proceeded to string seven consecutive M-E points.
Binghamton committed 17 turnovers to M-E’s eight, and managed a mere 5-for-16 free throw shooting.
Asked what he saw that he liked from his squad, Ocker said, “The energy level.
“We gave the kids an extra day off, which for a lot of them made a huge difference– lift-wise, movement-wise. I think we moved a lot better collectively than we have been defensively.”