Pine Plains made sure early on Friday there was no doubt about who the top team in Section 9 Class C high school boys basketball is this season.
Leading coast to coast, the second-seeded Bombers squashed top-seeded S.S. Seward, 68-41, at SUNY New Paltz to win their third consecutive Section 9 Class C title.
Pine Plains, which won its 16th straight game, led by as many as 40 points in the third quarter before coach Brendan LoBrutto extended his bench.
The Bombers advance to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. state regional semifinal at Newburgh’s Mount Saint Mary College where it will face the winner of today’s 2 p.m. Section 1 title game between Children’s Village and Palisade Prep.
“It’s just great to see,” LoBrutto, Pine Plains’ third-year coach, said. “I’m really just happy for the kids and the community and the families.”
Six-foot-eight junior swingman Tyler Lydon led Pine Plains (18-2) with 21 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with six blocks and four assists. S.S. Seward had little answer for the 6-foot-3 senior point guard, Cooper, or the 6-foot-9 senior center, Zach Lydon. The trio connected for alley-oop dunks, uncontested 3-pointers, as well as strong defense, which extended Seward well beyond the three-point arc for poor looks at the basket.
“We’ve been playing together since we were six or seven years old,” Tyler Lydon said of connecting with his brother and Cooper. “That chemistry’s always going to be there. It felt great to send the seniors out with this. Our goal all year has been to go to states. We’re just going to keep working at that.”
Pine Plains scored the game’s first 10 points and led 17-2 at the end of the first quarter. In the first half alone, Tyler Lydon had 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“We came out with a lot of energy and intensity,” said Cooper, who had nine points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. “We stuck to our gameplan and fed the bigs and came out on top.”
The Bombers had runs of 10-0, 10-0 and 9-0 in the first half and never let the Spartans back in. When Tyler Lydon found Adam Miller (11 points) for a basket with 4:50 left in the third quarter, Pine Plains led 52-12 and LoBrutto used the time remaining to get his bench experience. The Bombers got 13 points off the bench.
“It feels great,” said reserve guard Rob Galm, who had two points and two rebounds off the bench. “This is our goal all year, to win sections and MHAL. We’re looking forward to playing at Mount Saint Mary.”
Zach Lydon had 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists and two steals. As a fourth-year player, he said he always knew the Bombers had talent.
“I definitely thought we were going to do well, but not as well as we’ve been doing,” Zach Lydon said.
Tyler Lydon said he’s aware that Pine Plains is now a known commodity as opposed to an underdog.
“Teams are going to come at us and play us as hard as they can,” Tyler Lydon said. “We’ve got to do just the same thing.”
The next step for Pine Plains is to try to do something it’s never done and pick up a regional win.
“We’ve been knocked out the last two years in this round. We haven’t earned anything,” LoBrutto said of his team, which lost to Tuckahoe in the state tournament the last two years. “We’ve got to go out and play hard.”
Phil Strum: email@example.com, 845-437-4847, Twitter: @PJStrum