Maine-Endwell’s boys picked up a piece of high-quality postseason preparation — and claimed a win, to boot — with Saturday’s regular-season finale at Albany’s Green Tech High Charter School.
The Spartans followed Jake Sinicki’s 18-point, 15-rebound lead to a 52-51 win against an opponent coach Bill Ocker described as “definitely the most athletic team that we’ve played, probably in my eight years, from a pure athleticism standpoint.”
Green Tech and its pair of 6-foot-6 and 6-7 forwards, plus a Division I point guard, went into the game as New York’s 15th-ranked Class AA team, and came away as the second ranked AA squad to fall victim to M-E (12-4) this season. The other was Fayetteville-Manlius in the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic.
“Most importantly we negated their athleticism,” Ocker said. “We had virtually no live-ball turnovers that cost us transition baskets for them. And until the last minute-and-a-half of the game we really did a great job on the glass, keeping them from getting second and third looks. A lot of that was Jake Sinicki.
“I thought we executed pretty well offensively. We got shots for each other and we knew that they were going to make us take some tough ones and we had to get after the offensive glass. We did a good job of that with Kyle Gallagher, Alec Wisniewski and Jake all coming up with some offensive rebounds.”
The matchup was Ocker’s doing. He had seen Green Tech’s top players compete in the BCANY Summer Hoops Fest and, when M-E was assigned an opening-round game against Binghamton in the STOP-DWI tourney — thus freeing up a non-league game — he put things in motion.
“It’s a great opportunity for a road trip to take our kids and play the caliber of team that is normally waiting for you if you’re fortunate enough to earn your way out of Section 4,” he said. “Luckily, they had a game left to schedule and they agreed to have us come up at the end of the year.”
The defense rests
While a combined 184 points might suggest nothing resembling sound defense in a high school basketball game, Elmira coach Ryan Johnson had another take following last week’s 93-91 overtime victory over Union-Endicott.
“Even though we gave up 91 points, I thought defensively we did some good things in the half court,” he said. “We gave up some transitions. They’re so deadly. They’ve got a kid (C.J. Krowiak) who can penetrate any time he wants and they’ve got spot-up shooters all over the floor.
“Great high school basketball; great atmosphere, environment for our kids to get into, especially heading into playoff time.”
Elmira senior forward Zach Nierstedt played his first game this season, coming off the bench. He was expected to be out the entire season after undergoing surgery Nov. 22 to repair a muscle in his hip. He was second on the team in scoring last season with 13 points per game.
“Welcome back, Zach Nierstedt,” Johnson said. “He came in and gave us quality minutes, just handling the ball, making smart passes. He was very smart defensively. We’re excited to get him back on the floor.”
Tigers coach Joe Alger said of the Express: “Hats off to them. They played well tonight. It seemed liked everything they put up went in tonight, it seemed like every bounce went their way and every loose ball went their way.”
Frosh on the rise
The youngest player in uniform played a significant role in sparking Johnson City’s rally from a 16-point second-half hole to a 55-52 win last week at Owego that ultimately cost the Indians a chance to wrap up Central Division supremacy without need of a tiebreaker.
Owego’s lead was 31-15 before 6-foot freshman guard Patrick Garey started JC on a winning path by stroking a 3-point goal 2 1-2 minutes into the third quarter. He hit a second three 2½ minutes after that, and a third from Big-Boy range to draw the Wildcats within 39-32 upon completion of the quarter.
Garey was promoted from the junior varsity for the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic, with two-fold value in mind.
“He gives us something we don’t have a lot of, which is length,” coach Bill Spalik said. “Not necessarily in height, but he’s very long with his arms. We put him on the front of our 1-2-2 press and we may not get a lot of turnovers off that, but we definitely burn a lot of shot clock.”
20 years ago
* In a statistical oddity of a STAC boys semifinal, Norwich was a 41-23 winner against Vestal at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Purple Tornado’s reigning Class B state champions attempted 21 field goals on a night the teams scored three points apiece in the second quarter and two each in the third. It was a 23-17 game to begin the final period — with Vestal opting for an ultra-slowdown approach.
Normalcy returned for the final and Norwich claimed a second consecutive conference title with a 68-52 win over Binghamton — extending the Tornado’s victory streak to 11 games and halting the Patriots’ at 11.
* In the STAC girls final, Binghamton made it back-to-back STAC championships and improved their record to 18-0 by rolling past Chenango Valley, 50-26. It marked the most lopsided outcome in the 20-year history of STAC girls title games.