BY BILL PALMER
GLENS FALLS — Move over, Greg Koubek. Make room, Brendan O’Sullivan.
Twenty-eight years after those two future Division I players led Shenendehowa to a state basketball championship, a new group has elbowed its way into the Shenendehowa record book.
Led by tournament MVP Kevin Huerter, the Plainsmen beat Section VIII champion Brentwood, 76-63, Sunday in the state Class AA title game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It’s really rewarding. Twenty-four hours ago, we were in this same building, then to turn around and play this well, it’s awesome,” said Huerter, who duplicated his 25-point game in Saturday’s 60-52 win over Mount Vernon. “For this to be the second state championship, that means a lot.”
“They’ve been up there since what, 1986 or ’87,” said Brendan Fischer, who gave Shenendehowa a rebounding and defensive presence all weekend. “It’s going to be great to see our names up there, too.”
“This takes time, commitment, good athletes,” said Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas of his unbeaten team. “And it takes the support of the school.”
Huerter’s older brother, Thomas, bounced back from a tough semifinal with a 22-point game that included four three-pointers as Shenendehowa advanced to a Friday night game in the Federation tournament at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena.
“You can’t have a good game every time out,” he said. “Yesterday was a throwaway game for me. My teammates and coaches are confident in me. They told me, ‘You’re going to be fine. You’re going to play a good game today.’
“I fed off that. We’ve got good guys around us that played well, and I just fed off their energy.”
Fischer, who was a big presence fellow along with his fellow bigs down low in both games, added seven points and took down nine rebounds. He looked battle-weary after playing two games at the highest level in 24 hours.
“We knew it was going to be tough going back-to-back, but with what was on the line, you don’t even feel it after awhile,” Fischer said, clutching the sportsmanship award he earned.
Shenendehowa led, 18-10, after one, thanks largely to making eight of nine from the foul line. Three of those came after two Brentwood players were whistled for technical fouls. The Plainsmen made 21 of their 30 free throws for the game.
That lead was gone early in the second when Tavon Ginyard hit a pair of threes, and the Indians took a 32-30 lead at the half.
“Coach tells us not to worry about the score at halftime,” Thomas Huerter said. “It’s going to be a 32-minute dogfight. We’re just going to wear them out.”
“I didn’t mind being down by two at the half,” Dzikas said. “The pace was pretty good. At the end of the third, you started to see their [Brentwood’s] lights go out a little. That’s the way it’s been the last three games.”
Shenendehowa held Brentwood to a single three in the third, and led, 48-44, on late third-quarter baskets by Kevin Huerter and Petar Bebic.
“They had quite a few threes at halftime,” Dzikas said. “We had to get out on them. Even if they make 14 threes, you shake their hand. If you try to stop everything, you end up stopping nothing.
“We wanted to stop their inside game, and their penetration.”
The fourth quarter belonged to the Plainsmen, who were determined to finish the public school portion of their season perfect. Kevin Huerter had 10 of his points in that final eight minutes, and more importantly, five of his teammates also contributed points in the 28-19 run to the final buzzer.
The lead got as big as 13 points, 68-55, when Kevin Huerter hit both ends of a one-and-one.
“We couldn’t stop playing,” he said. “I kept telling the guys that these guys [Brentwood] can hit a bunch of threes and get back in the game.”
“When it got down to under a minute, maybe,” Fischer said of the moment he realized he and his teammates were going to be state champions. “But you can’t get comfortable or stop playing.”
Dzikas isn’t even thinking about the Federation tournament.
“Don’t know, don’t care,” he said. “I get to enjoy these kids for another week.”
His players shared that sentiment.
“This was definitely the main goal,” said Fischer. “The Federation [tournament], we’re going to try to win, but whatever happens, happens.”
“From here on out, we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Thomas Huerter.
Huerter 6-12-25, T. Huerter 7-4-22, Fischer 3-0-7, Lewis 1-1-3, Alverson 3-1-7, Hicks, 2-1-6, Bebic 2-2-6. Totals: 24-21-76.
Ginyard 6-0-17, Mableton 5-1-12, Almonacy 4-6-15, Allen 5-6-17, Michel 1-0-2. Totals: 21-13-63.
Shenendehowa 15 12 18 28 — 76
Brentwood 10 22 12 19 — 63
Three-point goals: K. Huerter, Hicks, T. Huerter 4, Fischer, Ginyard 5, Mableton, Almonacy, Allen.