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Saratoga uses strong first half to fly past Columbia, extend winning streak

Aidan Joly

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — An all-around performance let Saratoga continue their winning streak as they flew past Columbia Tuesday night, handling them by a final score of 65-49.

Saratoga got off and running in the first half, taking high-percentage shots and using a big first quarter from Nick Chudy, who hit a trio of three-pointers. In that span of time, Saratoga went on a 16-4 run to give them a 22-9 lead. That set the tone for the remainder of the game.

“When I hit a couple early on, it starts getting me hot, and I just keep rolling off of that, and it’s a good boost of confidence for my team,” Chudy said.

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In the second quarter, it was Brian Hart coming up big as 10 of his 12 total points came in that span of eight minutes. Saratoga took a 36-19 lead into the locker room at halftime and didn’t let the Blue Devils back into the game during the second half.

The full court press defense of Saratoga proved to play a big role in the win, forcing many Columbia turnovers, especially in the first half. The defense also forced Columbia to shoot a lot of three-pointers, something that they struggled with in the first two frames. They hit just one from outside in the first half and five overall.

“I think we pulled away from them in the first half with that full court press. Some of the turnovers that they committed led to easy buckets for us, and it was good to see Brian Hart and some of our other guys flying around, being aggressive all over the floor,” Saratoga head coach Matt Usher said.

Saratoga kept the up-tempo offense and strong defensive play going in the second half, using that to get their lead to as many as 22 and winning by 16 in the end.

The win comes as Saratoga’s fourth in a row following two losses to begin the year. They are 4-2 on the season.

“I do think those early games against Westhill (Section IX) and CBA have helped motivate and prepare us for some of these battles that we’ve had as of late,” Usher said.

Saratoga will be back in action in less than 48 hours as they hit the road to take on Shaker on Thursday night. That game will begin at approximately 7 p.m. following a girls’ matchup between the two schools and a jersey retirement ceremony for MLB players Jeff Hoffman and Tommy Kahnle. The Blue Streaks return home on Friday, January 5, for a game with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at 7 p.m.

Columbia is also now 4-2 on the year. They will play again on Thursday against Bethlehem at home. That game will also start at 7 p.m.

Aidan Joly joined Upstate Courier Sports in February 2016 and became managing editor of the sports department in August 2017. He covers Section II athletics, the Siena men's basketball team and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Aidan attends Saratoga Springs High School and will be attending Canisius College in the fall of 2018. Aidan can be contacted through social media (Twitter is @ByAidanJoly) or by email, joly@upstatecourier.com