TROY, NY — If you asked Maple Hill senior forward Garrett Axtmann at the start of the season if his team would make a post-season trip to the Glens Falls Civic Center, he would have said no way. But the Wildcats punched their ticket to the Class C semifinals Saturday, upsetting No.11 Mechanicville 45-40 in the quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Comunity College.
“We came in the No.14 seed,” said Axtmann. “We’ve learned to dive deep and get wins when we need to.”
After Mechanicville’s Keegan McHale opened the contest with a field goal just 8 seconds in, the Wildcats went on a 6-0 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.
“Our discipline on offense has been the big difference for us,” said head coach Scott Hanrahan. “We’ve been stressing getting the ball inside and getting the ball to our bug guys before we shot threes.”
At the halfway mark, Maple Hill held on to a slim two-point lead, 20-18, following a buzzer-beating shot from Mechanicville’s Zack Hansen. But the Wildcats would make their move early in the third quarter off a trio of three-pointers from Garrett Axtmann, Jack Santore, and Ethan Samarija.
“We knew those looks were gonna fall eventually and we came out of the locker room looking to make a run,” said junior guard Connor Hall. “Those shots meant a lot not only on the scoreboard but in our heads.”
Closing out games hasn’t been Maple Hill specialty this season, but they weathered a Red Raiders attack that had made it a five-point game with just under three minutes remaining in the contest.
“Dark horse we’re coming…bringing the stampede,” said an ecstatic Ethan Samarija as he exited the court.
Maple Hill will look to play the role of Upsetters once again when they take on No.2 Stillwater in the semifinals at Glens Falls Civic Center on Thursday, 6:00 p.m.