GLENS FALLS — Holding off a team that never went away, Shenendehowa clinched their bid to the sectional final on Tuesday night at the Cool Insuring Arena, beating CBA by a final score of 46-40.
An early run by the Plainsmen paved the way for the rest of the night, gaining a nearly double-digit lead by the end of the first, but CBA never bowed down. Shen led by as much as 11 in the second quarter, but the Brothers never trailed by more than nine in the second half.
Despite their offense being a little bit slow, the defense never allowed CBA to lead at any point in the game, mostly due in part to the defense holding CBA’s Jordan King, who averaged nearly 15 points per game all season, to just four points on the night and one field goal. The Plainsmen put senior guard Chris Hulbert on him the majority of the time, and all of King’s points came when Hulbert was not on him. King shot 1-7 including 1-5 from behind the three-point line.
“Teammates helped if I did get screened, and they would hedge and recover. (King) never really got really good open looks, and that’s what really helped him only get four points,” Hulbert said.
After holding a 25-18 lead at halftime, Shen’s offense went ice-cold in the third, being outscored 12-6 as CBA cut the lead to one at the buzzer on a nearly half-court shot off the hands of Adam Zebrowski that made it 31-30 at the end of three. It looked like the Brothers had the momentum at this point, but Shen made it clear that was not going to happen.
“Tonight, I knew it was going to be a battle,” Shen coach Tony Dzikas said. “Keep your head up, stay the course, and don’t get down about one shot.”
The Plainsmen responded with a 10-2 run to begin the fourth quarter, increasing their lead to nine with just under six minutes to go with a three from Abbas Merchant at the tail end of the run. From then on, CBA was never able to get much closer than that, only cutting Shen’s lead to as little as six for the rest of the night.
Merchant anchored Shen on offense, scoring 18 points and tacking on nine rebounds, coming one board shy of a double-double for the night. TJ Sangare, however, did have a double-double, registering 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“My shots were falling. It felt good. I got a couple inside jumpers, and then they fouled, and then my free throws started falling,” Merchant said. “My teammates did a great job finding me, and we moved the ball really well.”
CBA was led by Andrew Signor who had 12 points, and Peter O’Toole who finished the night with 11.
Shen returns to a familiar spot, playing in the Class AA championship after a one-year layoff following an early exit at the hands of La Salle in the sectional quarterfinals in 2017.
“That was tough. That was really tough,” Hulbert said.
The Class AA championship game will be played on Saturday at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, where they will take on Colonie who defeated Saratoga in the other semifinal game. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.