Panthers dominate Spa Catholic at home

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HOOSICK, N.Y. — The Hoosick Falls boys basketball team has faced an onslaught of tough opponents throughout its early season stretch.

They've taken on the No. 1 team in Class C in Lake George. They've even went toe-to-toe with one of the greatest scorers in New York State history in Joseph Girard III and his Glens Falls team.

In both of those contests, the Panthers came out on the losing end, but those losses came by a combined eight points. An impressive feat against two teams that are in the top five in points per game in the area.

The schedule didn't get any easier for Hoosick Falls Monday, as they took on the Class C No 5-ranked team, Spa Catholic at home.

With both teams undefeated in Wasaren League play, the stakes were high during this Martin Luther King Day matinee.

It was the Panthers who took reigns of the game early, putting the Saints in a deficit it couldn't overcome. Hoosick Falls would go on to win 71-47 at home.

The Panthers jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first four minutes and held a 23-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac, who set the all-time coaching wins record at the school last Friday against Berlin, thought it was imperative to get the jump on Spa Catholic early on.

"Usually in big games like this, the team that takes the initiative first has a big advantage," Lilac said. "I think we kind of shocked them a bit with our general energy. Our defense has been getting better, so we're most pleased with that. The energy we came out with was nice to see, getting out to that lead and punch them in the gut first."

Like they've had all season, the Panthers were paced by a strong, well-rounded offensive attack. Evan McCart led the way for Hoosick Falls with 20. McCart came out of the halftime break strong, scoring 15 of his 20 in the third quarter.

Jon Kempf scored 19 points for the Panthers. Kempf, who's game is based around knocking down the three-point shot or driving to the basket, got hot from behind the arc. The sophomore notched three 3's in the second quarter. He scored all of his 19 in the first half, as he was held scoreless after the break.

Point guard Guy Milliman added 15 points for Hoosick Falls. He led the team in first quarter points, notching nine of his 15 in the first eight minutes of the game.

Well-rounded offense is something the Panthers have been predicated on all season long. In seven of Hoosick Falls' 10 games, they have had at least three different players reach double-digits in points. Opponents having to deal with so many offensive threats can be challenging and Spa Catholic dealt with that Monday.

"We have a lot of good weapons. While we had the double-digit lead, we were able to keep Evan on the bench with two fouls," Lilac said. "Kempf kind of picked up the slack in scoring. Boom, Evan comes out in the third quarter and adds a whole new dimension to our offense. He comes out takes over in the third quarter and that kind of ended it right there."

Coming into Monday's contest, the Panthers knew if they wanted to knock off Spa Catholic, they were going to need to slow down senior Tyler Haraden. The 6-foot-3 forward has been the Saints top offensive weapon all season and came into the game averaging just under 20 points per game. He's been a major threat from behind the arc as well with 33 made three-point shots entering Monday's game.

Hoosick Falls countered by covering Haraden with shortest guy on its roster, 5-foot-8 Milliman.

On paper, a matchup with the offensive player being seven inches taller than the defender, should be a mismatch. That was not the case in Monday's contest as Milliman followed Haraden where ever he went on the floor and didn't give him much space. Heading into the final quarter, Haraden was still scoreless and that had a lot to do with Milliman's pitbull-like defense.

Haraden would get his offense going in the fourth, but finished with just six points, his lowest scoring output of the season.

"We had Guy Milliman on him, who's just a rock solid defender, never in the wrong spot at the wrong time," said Lilac, about defending Spa Catholic's main threat. "When carrying out a defensive gameplan, he's about the best there is."

Junior Terel Tillman led the Saints with 13 points, while Sean Englert added 10.

Hoosick Falls is back in action today against Hoosic Valley on the road.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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