Click photo to enlarge
<B>Hoosick Falls Central School point guard Andrew Hoag drives to the basket on Tuesday. Hoag scored 17 points, including 11 in the third, to pace the Panthers in a 69-33 win. (Geoff Smith)</B>

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- After falling behind early to Mount Anthony over the weekend, the Hoosick Falls Central School boys basketball team focused on starting hot in the buildup to Tuesday's game against Stillwater.

And the Panthers executed their start to a T, going on a 15-2 run that spanned the first quarter as Hoosick Falls rolled to a 69-33 win over the Warriors at home.

"That is all we talked about: Let's come out with some energy and some fight, both on offense and defense, and take it right to them," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac. "The guys responded well by bouncing back."

Junior Mark Hackett (game-high 17 points) got things going in the first, knocking down three three-pointers on the way to 12 first quarter points to give the Panthers a big cushion.

"My teammates did a great job of feeding me when I was hot," Hackett said. "We like to feed people when they are hot."

His coach agreed on the emphasis of finding the hot hand, and also added that "I've never had a linebacker [Hackett plays football] that can shoot that well. I've coached linebackers before, but never ones that shoot like this."

Will Bradley and Andrew Hoag both hit Hackett with two assists in the first quarter to get the offense going.

In the second, it was more of the same as the Panthers continued to apply pressure on defense to create offense at the other end. By halftime, the Panthers piled up six steals.

Hoag (game-high 17 pionts) led the Panthers with six in the second, including four from the free throw line, while Levi Brewster (8 points) and Noah Chani (11 points) each added four.

Going into the half, Hoosick Falls led 31-17.

"That is a physically and mentally tough group over there," said Stillwater coach Dave Cook. "It seemed like there was a lid on it for us and they made a bunch of shots."

After giving up the first basket in the second half to Jake Hill (6 points), the Panthers went on a 13-2 run to take a 44-21 lead. Hoag started the run with a pair of free throws, and capped it with a steal he took coast-to-coast for a layup.

"The biggest strength of this team is balance," Lilac said. "We have a lot of guys who can do things with the ball or without the ball. They showed more what we are like tonight."

Hackett added that: "We are real balanced. We have been playing together since we were little. We have great chemistry, we know where each other are going to be and what we want to do."

In the fourth, the Panthers outscored the Warriors 18-8 to seal the win. Austin Pitt (11 points) scored seven points over the final frame to see out the win.

Hoag finished with five rebounds, five assists, and three steals in the win, Bradley finished with four assists and four steals and Hackett chipped in with a pair of assists. Stillwater was led by Mitch Wayand, who scored 11 points in the loss.

The win moves Hoosick Falls to 6-1, 5-0 in the Wasaren League, while Stillwater falls to 5-4, 3-3 in the Wasaren.

Hoosick Falls returns to action on Friday, when the Panthers start a three-game road trip with a visit to Hoosic Valley (8-1, 6-0), the only other undefeated team in the Wasaren League.