GRANVILLE, N.Y. — Going into Tuesday night's matchup with Granville, the story for the Hoosick Falls boys basketball team was coach Mike Lilac looking for his 300th career win in his 19th season.
Senior Connor McCart's offensive output ended up a major footnote to the milestone.
McCart nearly set a school-record with his 46-point, 16-rebound night as the Panthers topped Granville, 70-55, on Tuesday night.
"I've had some time to reflect on all the guys we've had in the past and I told the kids and our youth center director, Mike Baker, that we have the best JV and youth coaches of anyone around," said Lilac after taking pictures with his son, Alex, and daughter, Hannah, after the victory.
Lilac won his first game against South Glens Falls on Dec. 6, 1996.
"I've had a lot of help and I've been around a long time. You think back to the kids you've coached and how lucky you've been," Lilac said.
Early in the third quarter, Granville tied the game as the Horde shot very well from beyond the arc in the first half. They made it 34-34 after a basket by junior Matthew Fuller, but the Panthers pulled away at that point, scoring the next 18 in a row — most of them layups by either McCart or Remington Hickey — to extend the advantage to 54-36 at the end of the third.
"I was surprised he was over 40, I thought he was in the 30s," Lilac said. "At halftime I said, if they'll play man, we have to be more patient, look to work it more, get inside and some layups. They listened and did a great job executing in the second half, they couldn't stop him."
McCart and Hickey combined for all of the Panthers' 22 points in the frame. McCart had 19 points at the break and started to take advantage of some mismatches in the defense to the tune of 15 points in the third by itself. The school record for scoring in one game was 48 by Kyle Goldstein in 1995, the year before Lilac began as coach.
"I felt like I was getting up there in points, but I didn't know, I just played the game and took good shots and if they go in, that's great," McCart, who had a 33-point effort in the Panthers' last game against Stillwater. "I didn't hit one 3-pointer, I made a lot of free throws, taking what's there."
The senior forward continue to fill the stat sheet in the fourth quarter as Granville tried to come back, but McCart was stout from the line as well, going 10-for-12 on the night. Fuller led the Horde with 24 points, while freshman Nick Sumner added 10. Hickey was the second-leading scorer for the Panthers with 10 points.
"We came out in the second half, found the mismatches and took advantage of it, and that wins basketball games," McCart said. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates, we found opportunities and captured them."
In the first quarter, Granville came out a hit on a three on its first possession right as the shot clock expired, but Hoosick Falls took a 14-10 lead after eight minutes when JV call-up C.J. Baker hit a basket at the horn. In the second quarter, McCart scored 13 of the team's 18 as he started to use his size, but Fuller hit a pair of threes to keep Granville in the game at 32-29 at the half.
But in the end, the night was about Lilac and his milestone.
"He's a great coach and he told us he wouldn't have gotten it without the guys around him," McCart said. "He has a great basketball IQ and knows the game inside and out. I'm glad he's my coach at Hoosick Falls."