Dutch beat Devils, move to finals
The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Hero at the line: Senior Billy Floyd made four free throws in the final 40 seconds for Guilderland during Wednesday’s five-overtime game against Columbia to advance the Dutch to the Class AA finals by the score of 102 to 100; Floyd scored 24 total points. Guilderland shot 43 free throws, and made only 39 percent of them.
ALBANY — Six free throws made by Guilderland’s Billy Floyd down the stretch of a five-overtime Class AA semifinal earned the Dutch a spot in the finals, but an abundance of missed foul shots almost killed the team, too.
Guilderland was horrible from the free-throw line on Wednesday against Columbia at the Times Union Center, making only 17 of 43, and missing key foul shots that probably would have iced the game in earlier overtime sessions.
Whether or not the nervousness of the big stage got to the Dutchmen, senior Marc Du Moulin, who scored 28 points, told The Enterprise after the 102-to-100 win that Guilderland was never going to lose this game.
“There’s a whole bunch of emotions running through me right now,” said Du Moulin; he had a cut next to his left eye. “It’s got to be the adrenaline that got us through, has to be, or the will to win.”
Wednesday’s semifinal may have been the longest Section 2 playoff game of all time.
Guilderland Head Coach Ron Osinski said that he wasn’t relieved until the clock hit triple zeros.
“It was that kind of night,” said Osinski, who has the most wins (446) of any active Section 2 coach. “I didn’t think that I had it in me to coach that long, but I knew that the players could handle it because I run them through enough sprints.”
Du Moulin, Vincent Simeone, and Matt Cerutti combined for 1 of 7 from the free throw line in the fifth overtime for the Dutch. Meanwhile, Columbia finished the game by making 16 of 20 foul shots.
All the missed free throws took Osinski back to 1996 when his Schalmont team lost to Peekskill in the state semifinals. In that game, Schalmont shot 5 of 27 from the line.
The effort shown by both Guilderland and Columbia will be remembered for a long time. Some Columbia players were seen shedding tears after the contest. Jahlil Nails, who scored a game-high 38 points for Columbia, sat out most of the 20 minutes of overtime due to a hurt right knee, which he tweaked on an attempt to steal the ball in the second overtime.
Nails, who had true moments of brilliance, would definitely have made a major impact on the final score if he had stayed in the game. Nails’s injury gave Guilderland an advantage, but Osinski was sad for the star player after the game.
“It’s very hard to lose that way,” said Osinski on Wednesday. “The game plan was to not give Nails that many looks, but he scored anyways.”
Now, Guilderland (19-2) plays on Monday at the Times Union Center for a chance to win its first-ever Class AA championship. The Dutchmen will play Green Tech (14-5), who beat Shenendehowa, 58 to 52, on Wednesday.
Certainly, the Dutch should practice shooting some free throws before the game.
“Our last goal was to win a title for Guilderland, and we have the motivation,” Du Moulin concluded last night. “But, right now, this one hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Du Moulin took a deep breath, and seemed to sigh a little.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said.