The Guilderland boys basketball team advanced to the Section II, Class AA semifinals, but not before Shaker put a scare into the Dutchmen.
The Blue Bison rallied from a 19-point deficit to get within three points of Guilderland late in the fourth quarter before key free throws by Brett Marfurt helped the Dutchmen pull out a 63-57 quarterfinal victory Sunday at Albany’s Times Union Center.
I thought we probably played three and a half quarters really well, said Guilderland coach Ron Osinski. `Credit them for coming back. Fortunately, we held on.`
`It didn’t look good for us, and we plugged along and made it a game,` said Shaker coach Jeff Holmes.
Guilderland used three-pointers to build its 19-point lead by the midpoint of the third quarter. Kevin Kost nailed three shots from behind the three-point arc in the first quarter to help the Dutchmen open up a 21-15 lead. Then, Marfurt made a pair of three-pointers during a personal 8-0 run midway through the second quarter, which propelled Guilderland to a 39-22 halftime advantage.
`Kevin (Kost) hit shots when he was open,` said Osinski. `They were defending other guys (early on), so Kevin was open.`
`It wasn’t the pace we wanted,` said Holmes. `We certainly didn’t want them scoring 21 points in the first quarter.`
When Guilderland stretched its lead to 19 points midway through the third quarter, Holmes took a calculated risk by sitting leading scorer Ryan Sullivan. The move paid off, as Shaker’s trio of junior guards ` Janique Lanier, Greg Bonomo and Gerrel McFadden ` lit a spark under the Blue Bison with aggressive defense and some clutch shots. Bonomo hit a three-pointer and a long jump shot off a Guilderland turnover midway through the fourth quarter to cut what had been a 15-point deficit to eight points. Following a Kost layup, Lanier nailed a jump shot to make the score 54-46.
`We had to go smaller and quicker,` said Holmes. `We had to put (defensive) pressure on, and it paid off for us with some layups and foul shots.`
`They pressured us pretty good, which surprised us. We hadn’t seen that all year long,` said Osinski. `And it seemed like every time we turned the ball over, they made us pay.`
Holmes re-inserted Sullivan, and he came through with a short turnaround jump shot in the lane. A short time later, Lanier converted a steal into a layup that pulled Shaker within four points at 54-50 with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Blue Bison, there was nothing they could do to stop Marfurt at the free throw line. The Suburban Council’s Player of the Year made five of his six foul shots down the stretch to prevent Shaker from getting much closer.
`With the game on the line, I definitely want the ball in my hands,` said Marfurt, who finished with a game-high 24 points. `I’m a senior, and I want to have a say at the end.`
Kost added a clutch layup and two free throws in the final minute to finish with 18 points for Guilderland, which advances to Thursday’s semifinal against Christian Brothers Academy at the Times Union Center.
Sullivan had 20 points, Lanier contributed 12 points and Bonomo added 11 points for Shaker.
`It’s been a good year for us,` said Holmes. `It started out slowly for us, but we finished with a .500 record in the league and we had a road playoff win (a first round victory at Schenectady), which has never happened since I’ve been coaching here.“