STONE RIDGE Pine Plains senior point guard Justin Cooper scored a game-high 24 points, including the 1,000th of his varsity career as his Bombers trounced Spackenkill High School, 74-39, in a Mid-Hudson Athletic League semifinal on Monday at SUNY Ulster.
The victory puts Pine Plains (15-2) in the MHAL final for a second straight season. The Bombers will face Division II champion Marlboro in a rematch of last year’s title game at 7 p.m. on Thursday at SUNY Ulster.
Pine Plains led 34-22 at halftime, but really put its foot on the gas in the third quarter, outscoring Spackenkill 21-5. The Bombers went on an 11-0 run to start the period and never looked back. Cooper reached his milestone basket halfway through the fourth quarter with a layup that gave Pine Plains a 64-29 lead and scored eight point in the game’s final period.
“In the first half, we really didn’t come out with that much energy,” said Cooper, who began his varsity career in his freshman year under then-coach Jedd Sims. “(Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto) kind of got mad at us in the locker room. We came out with a lot more intensity in the second half.
“Getting my thousandth point is great, but without all my teammates and all the support I’ve had, I wouldn’t be able to be here,” Cooper said. “It’s special, but what I want is hopefully a MHAL championship, a section championship and hopefully a trip to Glens Falls (for the state championship.”
LoBrutto has coached Cooper on varsity for three seasons.
“I’m really happy for him and proud of him,” LoBrutto said. “He works hard. He’ll be the first to thank his teammates although it’s his 1,000th point. He’s a great teammate and a really great kid. I’m really happy that he got to get that before he graduated.”
Tyler Lydon contributed 17 points and nine rebounds, despite missing the bulk of the third quarter in foul trouble and much of the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach for Spackenkill. His brother, Zach, added 15 points. The Lydons and Cooper each had two 3-pointers.
Marc Horvath led Spackenkill (11-6) with eight points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Josh Riley added six points and six rebounds.
“They’re good,” Spackenkill coach Terry Feeley said of Pine Plains. “Coming in, you know you’ve got to play a pretty good game and they’ve got to play a poor game. Too many of our shots seemed to be altered where they didn’t need to be altered. You’ve got to credit them and their length. I think our guys were a little intimidated when it came to shooting the ball.”