The Maine-Endwell boys basketball team had not played a competitive game in 20 days, and it showed early on.
At the same time, Owego’s offense was moving effectively, and the Indians led by four points early in the second quarter of Friday’s Section 4 Class A championship game.
But as the rust began to come off the Spartans, so the points began to pile onto the scoreboard. A 19-3 run to end the first half gave Maine-Endwell a lead that it only extended in the second half on its way to a 69-40 victory at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Jake Sinicki scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the first quarter to keep M-E in touching distance before the rest of the Spartans warmed up. Kyle Gallagher added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Alec Wisniewski added 12 points for the winners.
“We knew there was going to be a point where we would have to deal with the rust, and cutting full speed, and guarding live action,” Maine-Endwell coach Bill Ocker said. “It took us a solid quarter to get our feet under us and get our minds right. Once we got going, I think we did a nice job.”
Tyler Ford and Wil Gladney led Owego with 9 points apiece, and Zach Thomas added eight.
The key stretch started with Sinicki’s tip-in with 4:59 remaining before halftime to cut Owego’s lead to 18-16. Adam Gallagher hit a 3-pointer to give Maine-Endwell the lead, then Drew Gallagher hit another 3-pointer for a 22-18 lead.
Kyle Gallagher scored inside and Drew Gallagher scored in transition before Kyle Gallagher hit another layup with 1:50 left, pushing the lead to 28-18. Owego’s Brandon Hathaway hit a 3-pointer to stop the run, but Maine-Endwell’s Brandon Wanchisen responded with a 3 and a slicing layup by Drew Gallagher with 36 seconds left before halftime as the teams went to the locker room with M-E leading 33-21.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Sinicki said. “We got it going on the defensive end and it translated to our offense.”
Maine-Endwell did not rest on its lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 28-8. Kyle Gallagher scored on consecutive possessions early in the period to make it 37-21, then after Zach Thomas’ 3, Wisniewski scored six points in a row for 43-25.
Four points in a row by Kyle Gallagher near the end of the third quarter extended the lead to 53-29. Another layup, this one by Wisniewski, made it 54-29. It was 56-29 after Sinicki’s dunk, a 30-point lead after Wanchisen’s 3 at the end of the third and Owego never got within 28 after that.
Sinicki dominated offensively in the first quarter to keep Maine-Endwell in the game, scoring 9 of his 11 first-half points in the first eight minutes. Sinicki’s 3-pointer gave the Spartans an early 5-4 lead, and a Kyle Gallagher basket and foul gave M-E a 10-5 edge.
Owego then started to get into the game offensively. Wil Gladney hit inside, then a 3 by Zach Thomas tied the game. The Indians took the lead on a basket by Tyler Ford, then went ahead again 14-12 on another basket by Thomas before Sinicki’s tip-in at the buzzer for the first tied the game at 14.
Owego’s Adam Blackwell scored a layup and Tyler Ford followed with a basket of his own as the Indians retook the lead before Maine-Endwell got going.
“They’re the better team without a doubt and maybe they were expecting that they would get the lead right away,” Owego coach Bryan Hathaway said. “The boys came out and emotionally were high and ready for the game, but I think that to the game itself, they’ve never been in the situation, and I think the emotion ended up draining them.”