Strong third propels Patriots to W
BENNINGTON -- The Hoosick Falls Central School basketball team methodically worked the basketball around for 30 of the 32 minutes in Saturday's contest against Mount Anthony Union High School.
But it was the Patriots' ability to streak over a two-minute stretch in the third quarter that made the difference in the contest, as MAU won 70-56 at Kates Gym.
"When you play fast and shoot quick, sometimes it is a fine line between finding the open man or taking the first open shot. I thought the second unit put together some good possessions, and I thought that was the key to the run," MAU coach Dan Sleeman said.
The run started as a response to a mini-run from the Panthers. With MAU leading 28-25 at halftime, Hoosick Falls opened the second half with a bucket by Austin Pitt (12 points) and another by Will Bradley (9 points) to take a 29-28 lead.
But then the Patriots answered back. It started when Jason Redden (5 points) scored on a putback and was capped by a bankshot from James Levin (6 points) to take a 38-29 lead, and it proved fatal for the Panthers for the rest of the game.
"They took control after we took the lead," Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac said. "It was a matter of them making shots. They shot very well I thought. It wasn't just one or two guys, they were balanced. They had different kids that would step up at different times."
In total, 12 Patriots scored in the win. Tyler Champagne led the team with 14 and Alec Little added 11 off the bench, but the two were the only MAU players to reach double-digits.
"I feel that one of our strengths is the depth of our team," Sleeman said. "We made some adjustments with our lineups in the second. Defensively, I thought we had some great energy when our second unit got out there in the second half. We got offense from our defense."
The Patriots also had a good start to the game, racing out to a 9-0 lead. Sean Brundage (7 points) opened the scoring with a trey from the corner, and a bucket from Carson Cushman on a pass from Ethan Anderson made it 9-0.
The Panthers would answer in the quarter, though, outscoring MAU 11-4 over the rest of the period. Pitt scored four points in the quarter, and he also hit Noah Chani (9 points) for a three to make it 13-11.
In the second, the teams would each score 14 points to make it 28-25 at the half. Chani scored six more points, both threes, in the quarter while Pitt added five. For the Patriots, Champagne scored four while Anderson and Little each hit threes to pace the team.
"There are so many different people that had different moments during the game," Sleeman said. "I just throw that in there with the chemistry and the ‘team' word. It is a huge advantage."
After MAU went on the 10-0 run early in the third, the Panthers answered back with a three from Mark Hackett (game-high 18 points) on a pass from Bradley to cut the lead to six, but that was as close as the team would get the rest of the way.
The Panthers' task in the fourth was made harder when point guard Andrew Hoag fouled out early in the period, only to be joined on the bench by Chani when he picked up his fifth minutes later.
"It was getting late but we weren't panicking," Lilac said. "We figured that we could string some shots together and get some stops. Andrew is a big part of what we do offensively. We would have rather had him out there, we would have had a better chance at making a comeback."
The Panthers also left points at the free throw line, as the team shot 5-of-19 from the charity stripe. MAU shot 13-of-24 in the contest.
"That is something we have to shore up," Lilac said. "We had been shooting them well, but a lot of times it can be contagious."
Brundage finished the game with 11 rebounds, two assists, and four steals to go with his seven points, while Redden hauled in nine rebounds even though he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
"With Jason, the foul trouble got him frustrated. But the positive out of that was that he was able to come back, put that behind him, and give us some solid minutes in the second half. He took a giant step forward tonight."
Anderson had six assists for MAU in the win, while Hackett and Pitt each pulled down eight rebounds for Hoosick Falls. Hoag had six assists, five points, and three steals.
MAU improves to 4-2 with the win, while Hoosick Falls falls to 5-1. The Patriots play next on Wednesday against Hartford, while Hoosick Falls plays Tuesday against Stillwater.
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