How ’bout a single-word description for Red Hook’s first-half shooting, in which Tuesday’s 68-57 state basketball playoff victory over Maine-Endwell was rooted.
“Probably surreal,” Red Raiders coach Matt Hayes suggested.
“How ’bout fire?” Spartans coach Bill Ocker offered.
Both apply to a half in which Section 9’s champions from Dutchess County averaged a tad under three points per minute, made good on damn near three of every four attempts from the field and cashed seven 3-point goals.
It amounted to a 45-29 Red Hook advantage at intermission, and while M-E summarily trimmed the gap to nine, no nearer would the Spartans draw in the first-round contest at Johnson City High School.
Red Hook (16-5) moves on to a Class A quarterfinal against Section 1 champion Walter Panas, scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at Beacon High School.
Maine-Endwell (13-5) got 19 points from Jake Sinicki, 14 from Alec Wisniewski and 10 from Adam Gallagher as its hoped-for trek to Glens Falls was squelched two steps shy.
By way of foreshadowing what was to come, senior Paddy Parr opened scoring by canning a 3-point shot from high on the right wing 36 seconds into the contest. Sophomore teammate Dennis Hare put a bow on the Raiders’ 20-point opening quarter by left-handing in a 3-pointer from the right wing.
But, frighteningly, Red Hook grew only hotter.
Come second quarter, the Raiders made five 3-point goals to go with an old-school three-point play in a span of 5:10, gleefully trotting off the court at intermission with a 45-29 advantage over a group of Spartans that simply does not yield 45 points per half.
Consecutive 3-pointers were generated by Tucker Griffin and Parr 36 seconds apart after M-E had closed within 23-20. The three-point play was created by Hare on a storm to the goal in transition and made it 36-25.
Hare flushed a long ball from the left corner and Griffin another from the right corner, neither so much as lightly smooching iron. And — just because why wouldn’t he? — Hare caught-and-released his team’s seventh 3-pointer of the half with five seconds remaining and it was 45-29.
“We knew there were a couple things we had to do and one of them was get them off the three-point line,” Ocker said. “They made shots, but a lot of them they had enough time to get a rhythm and they made rhythm shots.”
“We’ve always been a good shooting team and we came out with a lot of confidence today,” Hare said. “That was our mind set, we came down here, three-hour drive, to win the basketball game. That was our plan.”
“It just seemed like everything we put up was going in,” coach Hayes said. “We’ve got good shooters on the team, we get good spacing and when we’re not turning it over we have a number of guys who can hit from the perimeter.”
A 29-point halftime total coupled with the defense ordinarily on display by M-E would typically make for a pleasant landing spot. But not on this night, not against the kind of shooting accuracy seldom sustained at any level of basketball.
Maine-Endwell charged early in the second quarter, and in fact prompted two full timeouts by Red Hook inside the opening three minutes.
Sinicki ducked to the rim, received a feed from Adam Gallagher and finished to get things started. Kyle Gallagher followed with a free throw, Adam with a finish off Wisniewski’s fast-break feed and Zach Lamoureux with another transition bucket and it was 45-36.
But Parr responded with a three-point play, then added a 3-point set shot, and Hare got into the lane for a goal to extend the Raiders’ lead to 53-38.
Just for kicks, Red Hook’s first two conversions of the final quarter went for three apiece — a stationary wing offering from 6-6 sophomore Colin Bemis and a beauty from the top by Nolan Dalton, over a defender and with one tick on the shot clock.
“We coughed it up five of our first six possessions and then they went to the foul line and they got layups like they’re very good at doing,” Hayes said. “We got a little nervous, but our guys have been in that situation a couple times this year and they never lose their composure.”