JOHNSON CITY – Kyhil Pinkney scored four points in the opening 23 seconds of overtime and Binghamton’s boys didn’t trail thereafter in a 68-65 victory over Johnson City that sent the Patriots to Friday’s Southern Tier Athletic Conference basketball final.
Pinkney and big man Nick Snyder closed with 18 points apiece on a night Binghamton followed its blueprint by repeatedly hurting the hosts on the interior.
The teams played to a 17-17 fourth-quarter standoff, with the final point delivered by Wildcats guard Dominic Nadz from the free throw line with 20 seconds remaining. The Pats’ final crack at a go-ahead bucket went awry when Andre Hawkins drove the lane and drew contact only to throw up a wild shot.
Pinkney struck first seven seconds into OT when he rose and tipped in Anthony Weakland’s 3-point misfire, and made it 60-56 by finishing in on the break thanks to Hawkins’ steal and rush three-quarters down the floor.
The outcome was essentially wrapped up when JC, trailing by 66-63 and gaining possession with 19 seconds to play, was unable to get off the needed 3-pointer and instead got a goal by Nadz from the block with two seconds remaining.
Coach Bill Spalik’s reaction confirmed that, indeed, an alternative plan of attack was desired.
Binghamton (13-5) will oppose defending champion Norwich (15-3) in the final Friday night at Union-Endicott.
Without Nadz and his 26-point effort born of penetrations to the rim, post-up offerings and 14 successful free throws, the Wildcats would have been in no position to extend the contest to an extra four minutes.
Nor would it have been extended without the final-quarter brilliance of JC guard Mark Cherrone, who crammed the entirety of his 10 points into a five-minute segment. Included were two 3-point hits, second of which was a get-outta-here banker sent from the right wing while fading to his left— and it dropped while he crashed bones-to-hardwood.
That highlight of highlights made it a 55-54 JC lead with less than a minute to play in regulation. Hawkins put the Pats on top with two freebies before Nadz tied it with a 1-for-2 trip to the line.
This one was tight throughout, with JC holding leads of three points after a quarter and one at halftime. Binghamton was denied a field goal for nearly three minutes to close the half before 6-foot-4 Snyder muscled in to put back Weakland’s off-the-mark three with three seconds to play.
It was a recurring theme for the Patriots, hitting JC where it hurts— from virtually point-blank range. Too often for the hosts’ liking, that interior damage was dealt by Binghamton via offensive rebounding, particularly and inexcusably off missed free throws.
“We made an emphasis against their zone to get the ball inside. We didn’t make any outside shots tonight but we got some great some great rebounds and we did a great job inside against the zone,” said Pats coach David Springer.
Binghamton’s up-close effectiveness included one third-period stretch in which Snyder scored three consecutive goals and then turned into facilitator on the next possession.
He converted twice inside in a 33-second span, the latter thanks to Pinkney’s penetrating feed to make it 32-32, and Snyder tacked on another from the block to tie it at 34. Next, after Kenny Johns stuck a three for JC, Snyder fed a cutting Hawkins, who was whacked and hit one of two from the line.
The third quarter ended when Aikeem Freeman sprang to follow up a miss in the closing second and it was 39-39 to start the fourth.
The lead changed hands eight times in an entertaining final period, once when 5-10 igniter Cherrone deflected a Binghamton pass ahead to himself and dashed home for a fetching left-handed finish despite being smacked on the attempt. That made it a 47-46 Wildcats advantage with 3:21 to play.
One of those critical pieces of rebounding work by Binghamton came when Pinkney snared possession of a second successive miss from the line by Snyder and went back up for two and a 54-52 Patriots lead_ summarily erased by Cherrone’s acrobatic 3-pointer, which remains in need of confirmation that he called the bank.
Binghamton’s Hawkins finished with 16 points, and managed to head off a fifth foul for the final 7:53 of play.
Nick Chilson added 13 points for Johnson City, that total held down by 4-for-10 free throw shooting. Nadz accounted for all nine JC points in overtime.
“Very good player,” Springer called Nadz. “He’s strong, he drives it, he’s under control and they posted him up quite a bit against us, which killed us.”
On Twitter: @PSBKevin