SOUTH GLENS FALLS – That Byram Hills even had a final shot and a final hope became a little lost in the outcome Saturday. The Bobcats once trailed Elmont by 16 points — including by 10 in the fourth quarter — and seemed to teeter on the brink of a blowout all first half. Not only did their Class A state semifinal produce an unexpected ending, the Section 1 champs had a legitimate chance to win.
Byram Hills’ slow, methodical comeback fell a shot short when sophomore Skylar Sinon misfired on a contested 3-pointer from the right corner just before the buzzer. The Bobcats lost 50-48 to Elmont at the Glens Falls Civic Center in just their second trip to the state final four.
“I held my breath and prayed to the lord,” said Elmont coach George Holub, whose team will play Troy at 1:30 on Sunday for the state title. “That was about it. ‘Please don’t let that thing go in.’ “
Byram Hills (21-6) was fortunate it even had that shot. The Bobcats sputtered early against the Spartans’ length and athleticism in the paint. They trailed 30-14 at one point in the second quarter and were still down by 11 points at the half.
After starting 0 for 9 from 3-point land, Byram Hills finally began to make shots from the perimeter, including senior Lou Filippelli’s 3 late in the third quarter that made it a four-point game. Elmont (22-3) responded early in the fourth and regained a 10-point cushion with less than six minutes remaining, but Sinon finally hit his first 3 of the game to spark one last push.
“We weren’t really making shots, which was tough,” Sinon said. “Once we pushed the ball and got past the press, the hardest part we were dealing with was turning the ball over once we got by them. We had to settle down a little bit and run our plays. Eventually our shots starting falling and we got back in the game.”
Junior big man Matt Groll (12 points, 11 rebounds, three steals) had a major impact late, but the Bobcats still trailed by six inside the final minute. Senior Jared Friedberg then sank a 3 with 47.2 to play and Elmont burned clock on the ensuing possession, but Byram Hills earned a defensive stop to regain possession with 8.3 to go.
Down 50-47, Sinon was fouled and hit the first shot. He missed the next intentionally when he caught the ball from the official and quickly fired it at the rim. One official blew a whistle to stop play, but the crew conferred and determined the Bobcats had not committed the violation.
“I was pretty happy about that,” coach Ted Repa said.
They were awarded possession on the baseline — and one last chance — because they held the possession arrow. Filippelli found Sinon open in the right corner, but Elmont’s 6-foot-3 senior, Jalen Burgess, closed out quickly and contested the shot.
“We got a little lucky there, but it definitely wasn’t a violation,” Sinon said. “We got the ball back. We ran one play that didn’t work at first (and called timeout). The second play we got a shot, but it obviously didn’t go down. I felt it was a little short, but I’ll take that shot nine out of 10 times and feel confident with it.”
Byram Hills misfired uncharacteristically all game. Sinon, the team’s leading scorer, had a team-high 14 points to go with six rebounds and six assists, but he shot just 3 for 17. The team finished 4 for 21 from 3 and made just four shots outside the paint all game.
“I was wondering when (our shots) were going to start falling. We hit ‘em down the stretch, a few of them, but, yeah, if we shot a little better, who knows?” Repa said. “It’s hard to think like that because we had a chance. I’ll take that chance every time.”
What brought the Bobcats back was their defense, which limited Elmont to 20 points in the second half. Byram won the final three quarters, but it fell behind 18-5 in the first and seemed unable to solve Elmont’s 6-3 forward, K.C. Ndefo, who had 10 rebounds, blocked seven shots and altered several more.
“That’s all you can ask for at the end of the game, to have an opportunity to win,” said Filippelli, who had eight points and eight rebounds. “We came out a little sluggish, came out a little slow, but we battled back, fought real hard and had an opportunity at the end of the day to win. It just wasn’t our day.”