NEWBURGH – The Marlboro High School boys basketball team began its season with a win over Briarcliff.
On Wednesday, the Iron Dukes made sure their season didn’t end against Briarcliff, too.
The Section 9 champion Iron Dukes defeated the Section 1 champion Bears, 57-49, at Mount Saint Mary College in the state Class B regional semifinals.
Marlboro will return to Mount Saint Mary on Saturday at 2 p.m. to play Section 11’s Southampton in the regional finals.
“I feel if we keep playing our game we’re going to be able to keep moving forward in this tournament,” said Nick Mongelli, who led the Iron Dukes with 17 points. “It feels awesome just to be a part of this tournament and the atmosphere that goes with it.”
The Iron Dukes led by five at halftime and opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Marlboro then went up by as many as 15 in the third quarter.
Briarcliff rallied to trim the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t muster enough to come all the way back.
Fifteen of Mongelli’s 17 points were scored on 3-point field goals.
“I’m a shooter on this team, so if I get the open look, I’m just going to start firing, see if it goes in,” Mongelli added. “I was feeling it from warm-ups to the end of the game.”
Marlboro coach Mike Koehler noticed some similarities between the regional semifinal win over Briarcliff and the win over the Bears to start the season.
“It was really similar,” said Koehler, whose team improved to 21-3. “The first game we didn’t know what to expect, today we did. It played out very similarly.”
Jack Rusk, who finished with 13 points, also knew what to expect against Briarcliff.
“Early in the season it was our first game and I’m pretty sure it was their first game too. We knew they had size,” Rusk said. “Every time we keep winning, it’s another chance to play basketball again.”
And the Iron Dukes will get that chance on Saturday. Southampton beat Section 8’s Oyster Bay 83-67 in its regional semifinal on Monday.
Unlike Briarcliff, the Iron Dukes don’t yet know what to expect against Southampton. Koehler said he will do his homework before Saturday.
“I’m going to hopefully find out something about them and see what we can get going,” Koehler said.
The coach added that he likes what he’s been seeing from his team.
“We’re playing great team ball. I think we’ve had a different leading scorer every game, which in the playoffs you don’t see too often,” Koehler said. “It’s been kind of great.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports
Visit http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/sports for a video look at Wednesday’s state playoff game between Marlboro and Briarcliff.