Panthers stifle No. 1 Warriors
HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Facing off against one of the leading scorers in Section II in Joel Wincowski, it was Hoosick Falls senior Levi Brewster's job to shadow the Division-I prospect who has scored 30 points a game this season.
Well, you can compare Brewster to a wallet -- because he was in Wincowski's pocket all night long.
Brewster and the rest of the Panthers held Wincowski to four first-half points and 19 for the game as Hoosick Falls topped state No. 1 in Class C Lake George, 52-37, breaking the Warriors' 18-game win streak, the longest in New York state.
"The plan was pretty simple, I just had to lock on him and stay as close as I could," said Brewster, a star defender on the Panthers' football team. "He can pull up for a jumper and if you're a split second late, he can cash in."
After tying their own defensive record for least points allowed on Friday night against Tamarac, the Panthers (11-1) again were tenacious and aggressive on defense, forcing poor shots from the Warrior (10-1) offense.
At the same time, the offense was on point. Hoosick built up an 8-0 lead after Brewster scored on a pinpoint pass from Mark Hackett. Hackett then buried one of his three triples to extend the lead to 11-0, forcing Lake George coach Dave Jones to burn an early timeout as the home crowd roared.
"Getting out to a good start was definitely big," Lilac said. "It got the crowd into it, we took advantage of the home court."
Early in the second quarter, Hoosick Falls increased its lead to 20-5 and Jones called another timeout.
"We had a tough time shooting in the beginning, trouble finding the range and we didn't match Hoosick Falls' intensity on the defensive end especially coming out and it hurt us," Jones said. "We had trouble getting continuity on offense; we just couldn't find a rhythm."
Lake George pulled to 27-14 at the half, but Wincowski only had four points as the Warriors were held to six first-half baskets.
"Zone defense is easier, it takes more focus to guard a kid that's tall and quick, you can never take a play off on defense," Brewster said.
"Levi did awesome, he's not as quick as Wincowski, but he kept with him the whole game," said Andrew Hoag, who led the Panthers on offense with 16 points. "We doubled him on all the screens, they'd set a ball screen for him, and we let the others [try to] beat us."
In the third, the Warriors used three quick baskets to pull within 10 at 30-20, but scores from Will Bradley and Austin Pitt gave Hoosick Falls the momentum. Bradley had 15 points in his highest-scoring game of the season.
Wincowski scored on a three-point play on the next time down the floor, but Noah Chani pushed the lead back to 14, draining a trey (his only basket) as the shot clock expired.
"We sputtered [on offense] in the third, then Noah nails a three with the shot clock running out. It was a big momentum play. We have five guys out there that can score, which gives us that possibility," Lilac said.
Wincowski sunk a half-court shot at the third-quarter buzzer, but when Andrew Zibro fouled out for Lake George with 6:44 left, then teammate Tyler Brown fouled out two minutes later, time was quickly running out on the Warriors.
Hoag and Hackett (10 points) effectively sealed the game moments later, with Hackett hitting a three and Hoag floating in a teardrop to snap Lake George's win streak.
"Our balance definitely helps, whoever has the best shot takes it," Lilac said. "Andrew was getting to the hoop and Will came up with some big shots."
With Hoosick Falls in Class B and Lake George in Class C, the teams won't match up in the postseason. But a game with a playoff atmosphere like Saturday's will be helpful to both teams.
"It's great to get a win over the No.1 C," Brewster said. "It's a great feeling and a big confidence booster."
"I said before the game, no matter what happened, this game would make us both better," Lilac said. "I'd rather get better and win. We're playing well, and the defense is starting to lock it down, this was a statement game."
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