HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Last year, the Hoosac School saw a double digit halftime lead slip away against Vermont Academy. This time around, Hoosac made sure it wouldn't happen again.
Behind a combined 50 points from Unique McLean (27) and Charles Wingate (23), Hoosac hung onto its halftime lead to see off Vermont Academy 87-73 at home on Wednesday afternoon.
Hoosac, a New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class B team, took down the third-ranked team in Class AA with a patient offense and a defensive scheme that gave Vermont Academy problems all night.
"We wanted to work real hard today on getting off to a good start and trying to keep them at bay," said Hoosac coach Mike Foster. "We put in ... little wrinkles in the regular zone we usually play with some man and we were able to take advantage of it. We were able to get them off their stride."
Hoosac started the game on the positive foot, with McLean opening the scoring on a drive to the basket and Wingate finishing off a steal by Damani Guscott to make it 7-0.
Vermont Academy would answer with a 3-pointer from Tyler Harville (15 points), but Hoosac responded to Harville's trey with a 10-2 run that gave Hoosac a 17-5 lead on a trey from Wingate off of a McLean pass.
"[Wingate] is always big, we worry about him a lot and he helps us out a lot," McLean said. "He always comes out and hits a couple three's for us in a game. He is a big part of our team."
Vermont Academy would get the lead down to eight at 20-12 on a bucket by Bruce Brown (9 points), and then down to seven at 22-15 on a pair of free throws from Sedee Keita (3 points) with under seven minutes to go in the half, but a McLean triple pushed the lead back out to 10. Twice more in the first half Vermont Academy would get the deficit down into single digits, but each time Hoosac responded with points to push the lead back to double digits and the team would take a 46-26 lead into halftime.
"[Defense] is how we approach games," Foster said. "We played strong man, dropped back into a little zone and played a trap when they gave us the opportunity. We were patient on defense and didn't have to take many gambles."
In the first half, Wingate scored 19 points behind four triples to lead Hoosac, while McLean added 12 points and seven rebounds. KJ Santos led Vermont Academy with eight points, but the Vermont bigs Keita and Tyler Jackson were limited to a combined 12 points and only one field goal.
"I came to the gym early, real early," Wingate said. "I came in at 1 p.m. for a 4 p.m. game, so I was feeling myself in the first half."
Hoosac also out-rebounded the taller Vermont Academy 22-15 in the first half.
"Our bigs played well, we just rebounded the ball well together and made sure we boxed out," McLean said. "It was a team effort today, a team effort to box out and get some rebounds."
In the second half, Vermont Academy would try to keep itself in the game with shots from deep, but Hoosac was able to fend off every run made at them.
Vermont Academy would cut the lead to 56-43 with just under 12 to play on a trey from Christian Vital (16 points) and a free throw from Santos (19 points), but an and-one by McLean pushed the lead back to 16 points.
Vital would get Vermont Academy's deficit back down to 13 on an and-one to make it 61-48. Hoosac would eventually get the lead back to 20, as Atakan Akcam (7 points) stole a Vermont Academy pass and found McLean the other way for a vicious slam to make it 74-54.
Hoosac was able to hang on from there, as Vermont Academy made a late push to try and get back into the contest. Harville hit two-straight threes to cut the deficit to 85-71 and Santos would finish off an alley-oop from Vital to make it 85-73, but with only a minute left Hoosac would hold onto the ball to see out the contest.
"This win will let everybody else know what they already know: We are coming to play," Foster said. "The kids were really resilient today."
McLean finished the night with 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block to go along with his 27 points, while Wingate added six rebounds, four steals and two assists. Gregg Braithwaite had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hoosac big men.
Vermont Academy was led by Santos with 19, while Brown added seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Vital had four assists for Vermont Academy in the loss. Hoosac finished with a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
Hoosac moves to 11-3 on the year, while Vermont Academy falls to 9-8. Hoosac returns to action on Saturday at home against Redemption Christian Academy.