Saratoga picks up in second half, defeats La Salle in Class AA quarterfinals

TROY — After a bit of a slow start, Saratoga picked up their level of play in the second half, and that allowed them to cruise to a victory on Saturday night in the Class AA quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College, grabbing a win by a final score of 59-44.

The teams played a close game for most of the first half, and despite leading for nearly the entire time, Saratoga never really gained true momentum in the first. The defense allowed La Salle opportunities to keep the game close, and that’s what they did despite never taking the lead. They had tied the game during the first quarter and trailed by as little as one point during the second quarter.

After the break, however, things changed. Saratoga opened the half on a 10-2 run that allowed them to jump out to a 40-26 lead, and despite the fact that La Salle got to within nine points on a couple of occasions, the Blue Streaks maintained control on the Cadets throughout the rest of the night.

“We hit some shots there in the second half to extend the lead. They definitely cleaned up the defense and started to rebound and get some stops when we needed them to stretch it, so that’s what we need to continue to do,” Saratoga coach Matt Usher said.

Saratoga allowed just eight points during the third quarter and just 20 overall for the second half.

Will Fox was a key the whole way for the Blue Streaks as he hit big shots throughout the game, seemingly having the ball whenever they needed a score. He put Saratoga back up by double digits twice during the second half after La Salle had cut it to under 10. The first one came during the third quarter that made it 42-31, and the second one came with just under three minutes to play that made it 53-42. Overall, he finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive side.

“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we would have liked, but our game plan going in was to crash the O-boards, and I thought we did that well offensively and defensively,” Fox said.

Fox was one of three Blue Streaks in double figures. Brian Hart had 15 points as part of a double-double with 11 rebounds, and Nick Chudy tacked on 12 points. For La Salle, Joe DeLollo had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Ian Duncan had 11 points.

Saratoga advances to the sectional semifinals after being eliminated in the sectional quarterfinals in each of the past two seasons.

“They’re excited to get up to Glens Falls. We’ve had a good year, but they still have some goals in front of them that they’d like to accomplish. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve won some games, this is a big win for us today,” Usher said.

In the semifinal game, Saratoga will take on Colonie at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. The game is set to begin at 8 p.m. with a bid to the sectional final on the line.

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