The high school boys basketball team from Pine Plains was welcomed home like champions in the wee hours of Sunday morning after falling in the state championship game on Saturday.
Although Lake George defeated Pine Plains 55-45 in the state Class C championship game in Glens Falls, the Bombers were given an escort into town of police and fire vehicles. When the team arrived at Stissing Mountain Jr./Sr. High School, local fans applauded the Bombers, and according to junior swingman Tyler Lydon, there was a brief fireworks display.
“I was lying down on the bus and all of a sudden, there was all of this noise and there were fire trucks,” Lydon said. “It just showed how much this brought the community together, and it showed us how much support we really had, especially after the loss.”
The 2012-13 edition of the Bombers won their division title, the Mid-Hudson Athletic League crown and their third consecutive Section 9 Class C championship. Although the Bombers will graduate two starters, senior point guard Justin Cooper and senior forward Zach Lydon, Pine Plains returns starters Tyler Lydon, center Adam Miller and guard Dakota Piazzi.
“I think we’re going to look really good next year with three out of five returning starters,” Tyler Lydon said. “Justin and Zach are a pretty big part of the team. Justin was our leading scorer and Zach was right up there with him. It will also be tough since I grew up playing with both of them.”
Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto said next season’s goal remains what this season’s goal was: to win a state championship.
“The next step would be to take one home,” LoBrutto said. “That’s everyone’s goal every year. Once the emotions wear off a little bit, hopefully these guys will really appreciate what they did and how much they really brought the community together.”
As for the seniors, LoBrutto said, “They’re a really special group, on and off the court. They really keep me on my toes, but in a good way. They’re just good kids who come from good families and are also really good basketball players. They’re going to be missed.”
There won’t be much rest for many of the Bombers, who will return to class today. Six of the 12 basketball players are also on the school’s varsity baseball team: Zach Lydon, Cooper, Nolan Harpp, Tivon Carson, Rob Galm and Drew Evans. Lydon and Cooper did not play baseball last season because they played AAU basketball for the Albany City Rocks with Tyler Lydon. Tyler Lydon said he will return to the City Rocks for a second season.
Lake George coach Dave Jones praised the Bombers’ effort.
“Pine Plains played extremely hard,” Jones said. “They created so many match-up problems for us. We had to make a ton of adjustments to adjust to their size. Obviously, they are a very well-coached, hard-working team.”
“This is our toughest loss, but we left it all out there,” Cooper said after the game. “Lake George is a very good team. You’ve got to give them credit. We battled to the end, each and every single one of us. I wouldn’t want to spend this time with any other group of guys.”
Phil Strum: email@example.com, 845-437-4847, Twitter: @PJStrum