Mar 05, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
To some degree, the Hamilton boys basketball team chased New York Mills all the way to Manley Field House — but could never catch them.
As a result, the Emerald Knights could not claim its first Section III title since 2001, instead taking a 61-52 loss to the Marauders in last Saturday’s Class D-1 championship game.
They had clashed twice in the regular season. Mills (22-1), no.6 in the latest state Class D rankings, had won on both occasions, part of a brutal schedule where Hamilton fell six timesto teams (Mills, Sherburne-Earlville and West Canada) to state-ranked teams on its way to a 10-10 mark.
All that seasoning, though, got Hamilton ready for the D-1 playoffs, where it crushed McGraw, then rallied to stun no. 1 seed Copenhagen in the semifinals on Feb. 23.
Eight days later, the Emerald Knights found itself at Manley, dealing with Mills for a third time. Unlike the first two meetings, Hamilton did not have to worry about the Marauders’ 6-6 center, Steve Murray, who was dismissed from the team following an arrest in the hours after Mills’ D-1 quarterfinal win over Remsen.
Still, the Marauders were a tight-knit, well-coached team whose passing skills led to open looks all over the court.
Early on, the trend was set. Hamilton did not show many jitters in the vast Manley setting, yet still fell behind 16-13 by the end of the first quarter.
What followed, well into the fourth quarter, was a consistent and frustrating pattern. The Emerald Knights would pull within a couple of points, only to have the Marauders secure a basket or two and stay out in front.
At one point early in the third quarter, Mills led 33-25, but Hamilton promptly dropped in six unanswered points to get close again, and the slim margin continued to bounce around.
With less than six minutes left, Hamilton was within three, 46-43, but Mills, beaten by Copenhagen in last year’s D-1 final, would not fall this time. It put together a decisive 10-2 run and blanked Hamilton for more than 2 1/2 minutes in that last frame, enough time to pull clear.
In defeat, the Emerald Knights displayed remarkable offensive balance. Matt Martin got all of his 12 points from four 3-point shots. Nick Sorosky and Nate Broedel each worked inside for 11 points, while Jeff Schindler gained nine points and Derrick Cenicaola came off the bench for seven points.
Mills didn’t have that kind of parity in its attack, but David Wadas (18 points) and Shawn Schmeicher (17 points) did a lot by themselves, and Chris Critelli added 10 points to pick up the absent Murray’s slack.
As Mills went on to meet Otselic Valley in the overall Class D title game, Hamilton concluded a 12-11 campaign that saw seniors Martin, Broedel, Schindler, Sarosky and Jonah Roberts work together to create a memorable run to Manley.
Now that group graduates, and head coach David Rhyde will try to seek a new crew of starters that will keep Hamilton among the top realm of Class D title contenders.