BENNINGTON -- When the Mount Anthony Union High School boys basketball team needed a lift early in the second quarter against Hoosick Falls, they turned to their senior leader.
Aaryngston Bibens took over, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second and third quarters, turning an early deficit into a 38-28 win for the Patriots.
"Aary was huge in the second and third," said MAU (5-12) coach Dan Sleeman. "We found a way to win in an ugly game."
After a sloppy first quarter, Evan Phillips scored the first basket of the second quarter to give Hoosick Falls a 10-3 lead, but the Panthers wouldn’t score again in the frame as Mount Anthony racked up 15 straight points before the half.
Evan Sparta and Bibens hit shots to pull within one, then Bibens hit a layup going 1-on-4 to put MAU ahead. A minute later, James Levin buried a triple to keep the momentum going.
"We changed the offensive structure with [Hoosick] in the press," Sleeman said. "We kind of let the guys on their own to drive, kick and open things up."
Hoosick Falls trailed 18-10 at intermission.
"We didn’t seem to have much passion in the second, we were walking around, just didn’t play hard," said Hoosick Falls (9-9) coach Mike Lilac. "[That’s] something we can’t do. We have to use passion and energy as one of our strengths."
But on this night, there was no stopping Bibens after halftime, either.
He hit two free throws, then hit a jumper with 5:28 left in the third to make it 22-11. On the next possession, Bibens stole a pass and went to dunk when Andrew Hoag fouled Bibens on the way up. Hoag was called for a flagrant foul on the play as players from both teams came together. The game was delayed momentarily as school officials tried to calm everyone down.
"There’s no way he deserved [a flagrant foul]," Lilac said. "It wasn’t a good sequence for us."
"I was concerned that we wouldnt keep our composure," Sleeman said. "I was concerned about getting caught up in the emotion."
The play seemed to fire up the Panthers as they began to make their comeback in the fourth. Down 30-16 as the final quarter started, Phillips drained a trey, then Baker, Hoosick Falls’ leading scorer with nine, hit on a layup to pull within 30-21 with 5:30 left. Turning up the pressure, the Panthers got to 33-28 after Randy Tutunjian hit a shot, but it was as close as they would get as MAU hit 5-of-6 from the line in the final 75 seconds.
"Without my call from the bench, Aary really asserted his leadership when we spread the floor," Sleeman said.
In contrast, the Panthers were 1-of-8 from the charity stripe.
"We could have made it interesting, but we missed a bunch of foul shots. We’re taking it and making it harder on ourselves."
Hoosick Falls ends the season at 9-9 and will find out today about their playoff fate. MAU has three games remaining and must win one to be eligible for the playdowns.