BY MICHAEL KELLY
GLENS FALLS — A few minutes after topping Mount Vernon in today’s semifinal round of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA state championship tournament, junior guard Kevin Huerter said Shenendehowa was not long for basking in the glory of its 60-52 victory.
“We’ll enjoy it for about the next hour,” he said. “Then, we’ll realize we still have work to do and start preparing for Brentwood.”
The Plainsmen (24-0) will take on Brentwood (24-1) Sunday back at the Glens Falls Civic Center at 3:15 p.m. with the state championship on the line. For Shenendehowa, it will be the program’s first opportunity to pick up a state championship since 1987 — about 10 years before this year’s seniors were born.
The Shenendehowa boys basketball team nearly led from start to finish against Mount Vernon before using an 8-2 run to close the game and pull away for an eight-point win. Huerter collected a team-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks; meanwhile, senior forward Brandon Fischer produced 18 points and nine rebounds.
“Every time he touched the ball, it seemed like he did something good with it,” Huerter said.
In the victory, the Plainsmen also received six points from senior guard Thomas Huerter; a key steal in the final minute from senior guard Drew Lewis; and, the club’s big men helped the Plainsmen bang and bruise their way to a 37-26 advantage on the boards.
Meanwhile, Brentwood advanced to Sunday’s title game with a 63-56 win against Aquinas Institute. Brentwood poses a similar challenge for Shenendehowa as the Plainsmen’s last two ultra-quick and athletic opponents.
“This team is fantastic,” Shenendehowa head coach Tony Dzikas said of Brentwood. “They are scary good.”
“They’re going to have a lot of big guys, a lot of guys that go up and finish by the rim,” said Kevin Huerter. “We’re going to have to control them again and try to win the rebounding battle.”
The Plainsmen will attempt to match up with Brentwood’s off-the-dribble offensive attack with its trademark 3-2 zone defense. While in that zone defense, Dzikas said there will be more of an onus than usual on the Plainsmen to defend up top against the Brentwood ball-handlers.
“[We] have to do a better job of guarding the ball,” said Dzikas. “Where they’re attacking in your zone, you better be ready to play man-to-man ‘D’ in that area of the zone.”
In the immediate aftermath of advancing to the program’s first state championship game since 1987, the Plainsmen said priority No. 1 was to make sure the squad was healthy enough for Sunday’s affair.
“Definitely get some ice baths … tonight, and do the best we can to be ready,” Lewis said was the team’s plan. “But I think tomorrow the adrenaline will kick in and I think we’ll be good to go.”
“We’ve got our hands full tomorrow,” said Dzikas. “We’ve got about 24 hours to figure some stuff out.”