TROY — In a tight game that came down to the wire, Colonie was able to hold off Troy and win by a score of 51-47 during Saturday’s Class AA quarterfinal matchup at Hudson Valley Community College. Colonie senior and Vermont commit Isaiah Moll turned in a 23 point, 11 rebound double-double which included clutch free throw shooting in crunch time to lead his team to the playoff victory.
Colonie came out very strong as they took a 13-5 lead over the Flying Horses just six minutes into the game. Moll was on fire as he scored 11 of them and Troy initially appeared to have no method of stopping him. Moll also had a four-point play in the first quarter where he let a contested three fly from the wing and was fouled by Joe Casale. Moll proceeded to knock down the free throw.
The Raiders and Flying Horses continued to trade blows for the rest of the quarter, with the score being 17-10 going into the second quarter.
Colonie played a similar second quarter to their first, with stifling defense and decent, but not great offense. The Raiders started the quarter strong yet again as they opened the scoring with a baseline jumpshot from Aaron Satin. Raiders’ senior Will Aybar immediately followed up by intercepting a Troy pass and taking it all the way for an easy layup.
About a minute later, Troy junior Lateef Johnson connected on two free throws before Colonie answered with another five points to take their biggest lead of the contest, 26-12. The Flying Horses did not let this discourage them as they cut the deficit in half to make it 26-19 with a three from Latyce Faison, a post finish from Johnson, and a nice euro step finish from Faison. Faison would finish the night as Troy’s leading scorer with 13 points.
With the score being 31-21 in favor of Colonie at halftime, the game could go one of two ways. Either Colonie could continue to shut Troy down defensively and run away with the lead, or Troy could fight back and make it a game. The Flying Horses chose the latter.
Holding to form, Colonie played very well defensively and held Troy to just nine points in the third quarter. However, the Raiders also had trouble scoring the ball, as they only put six points on the board in the quarter. Troy was also able to hold Moll scoreless in the third. Moll was also unable to score a single field goal in the second half.
While Troy looked like the better team throughout the third quarter, they were only able to chip at Colonie’s lead with the Raiders still leading 37-30 heading into the fourth. Troy was playing impeccable defense and getting open looks, but their guys just could not convert.
Troy kept the energy up to start the fourth quarter as Alonzo Alexander drained one of his three three-pointers about 50 seconds in before Joe Casale knocked down a baseline jumper to make it a two point game. Colonie responded with a bucket on their next possession, but then Alexander answered right back with a contested three.
It was very back-and-forth for the following few minutes of play, as Troy junior Nazaire Merritt hit a dagger from downtown to give the Flying Horses the 43-42 lead, which was their first lead since the first quarter.
Having not yet scored in the second half, Isaiah Moll was very clutch late in the game. In the last three and a half minutes of the contest, Moll went to the lane on five occasions. Moll hit eight of these ten free throws to finish at 82% from the line.
As the game came down to the wire, both Lateef Johnson and Kevin Ledesma-Mora fouled out for Troy, making it very tough to pull out without two of their starters in crunch time. Ledesma-Mora’s fifth foul occurred with only 17 seconds remaining in the game, putting Isaiah Moll on the line. With all eyes on him and the pressure of the game sitting on his shoulders, Moll came through and iced the game by making both foul shots.
When asked about his late game free throws after the game, Moll demonstrated his sense of humor, stating that “when (he) was younger (he) was on the free throw line once and (he) missed. Ever since then (he) just made sure (he) would never do it again.”
Sitting on a five point lead with 17 seconds left, Colonie looked to be the victors barring late game heroics from the Flying Horses. Nazaire Merritt would come down the floor and hit a reverse layup, but it was for nothing as Colonie was able to successfully inbound the ball and Moll knocked down another free throw to make it a two possession game with seven seconds left.
“We were down in the fourth quarter, it was a close game, and we pulled it out, so that will give us some good confidence heading into our next game” Moll said about his thoughts on the game.
This 51-47 playoff victory was Colonie’s second over Troy, as the Raiders won the regular season matchup in a close game as well. With this win, Colonie earns a spot in the class AA semifinals, which will be on February 26th at the Cool Insuring Arena.
Points: Isaiah Moll 23
Rebounds: Isaiah Moll 11
Assists: Isaiah Moll 5
Points: Latyce Faison 13
Rebounds: Nazaire Merritt 6
Assists: Latyce Faison/Joe Casale 2