The Rhinebeck High School boys basketball team will take aim at its first Section 9 championship since 2001 Saturday.
To do that, though, it will have to get past a rival that, on Thursday, dethroned a defending champion.
The Hawks and the Spackenkill Spartans will clash for the Section 9 Class B crown 4 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Orange.
Spackenkill, the top seed, earned its place by defeating fourth-seeded Marlboro, 61-54. The Iron Dukes last year reached the state final, after overcoming Spackenkill in triple overtime in the sectional final.
Rhinebeck, the third seed, topped No. 7 Rondout Valley in the semifinals Thursday, 62-53. Jack Spencer had 23 points and seven rebounds, and Rob Veith scored 22 points in the win.
The Spartans have beaten Rhinebeck twice this season, most recently 57-51 in a Mid-Hudson Athletic League semifinal two weeks ago.
“We’ve been close with them both times,” Hawks coach David Aierstok said. “This final is going to be hard-fought.”
Rhinebeck opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run against Rondout — during which Joe Boland hit two three-pointers. Aierstok lauded the defense and hustle of Zach Matthews.
“We had guys diving on the floor and the effort showed that they don’t want to see this season end,” Aierstok said. “They’ve got tremendous fight in them.”
John S. Burke Catholic 68, Franklin D. Roosevelt 61 — Nowah Rosado scored 23 points for third-seeded Roosevelt in the loss to No. 2 Burke Catholic in a Section 9 Class AA semifinal on Thursday. Ryan Diehl added 10 points and DeAndre Orr scored nine points for the Presidents (15-6). Pat Douthit scored 25 points to lead Burke.
“I told the guys the accomplishments we made all year are phenomenal and a testament to our leadership,” Roosevelt coach Kevin Hart said. “We had an awesome year and I couldn’t be more proud of them … We had opportunities to win this, but we just came up a little short.”
Roosevelt will graduate six seniors, but does return six players. For them, Hart said, “This loss will be motivation to get back to postseason play next year.”
Third-seeded Roosevelt lost to No. 2 Warwick, 50-21, in a Section 9 Class AA semifinal.