Blackbirds defend their way to title game

VOORHEESVILLE — The Blackbirds are stingy defenders.

The Voorheesville boys’ basketball team used a tough defense to defeat top-seeded Schenectady Christian on Monday in the Class CC Section II semifinals and set up a championship match with fellow Colonial Council member Mechanicville at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Blackbirds, who are the fourth seed in the class, held the Falcons to 44 points and never trailed in the second half en route to the 54-44 victory at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Voorheesville beat Berne-Knox-Westerlo, 74-55, on Friday at the University at Albany in a quarterfinal match-up of local rivals.
"This is great," said Voorheesville senior Evan Christner after the semifinal contest. "We’ve not been here in a while. It’s a great feeling. It proves the hard work paid off."

Voorheesville was last in the title game in 2005 when the Blackbirds were a Class B school.

"We played really good defense," said Voorheesville Coach Don Catellier. "We work hard on defense and that’s what wins for us. We played man mostly with a little zone on inbound plays. We played hand-in-your-face man-to-man."

The Blackbirds shut down Schenectady Christian’s top two scorers, Jake Bowman and Bryan Bishop, in Monday’s contest.
"Our game plan was to hold Bowman and Bishop under their average and we did that," Catellier said. "We did the same thing with [Matt] Lounsbury of Berne. It worked."
"We played straight man-to-man and the game plan was to take Bowman and Bishop out of the game," said senior Mackey Lloyd. "We wanted to take those two out and force the rest of their guys to beat us."

Schenectady Christian led, 13-10, at the end of the first quarter, but the Blackbirds tightened up in the second stanza.

Voorheesville held the Falcons to six points in the frame and the Blackbirds took flight for 16 points in the quarter.

Kevin Klembczyk opened the scoring, getting a lay-up inside after getting a nice pass from Lloyd. Lloyd then scored on a drive to the hoop and the Birds had the lead, 14-13.

Christner cleaned up a missed shot with a put-back with 6:35 left in the second quarter. Ethan Mackey scored inside to give Voorheesville an 18-13 lead.

Schenectady Christian finally scored again with 4:40 left until halftime. Petar Serafinovski scored from close range for the Falcons.

Mackey scored after grabbing an offensive rebound for Voorheesville with 3:35 left in the stanza.

Schenectady Christian got another basket with 3:17 left in the quarter on a put-back by Chris McCarty.

But a few seconds later, Klembczyk stole a pass and went to the basket for a fast-break lay-up. He stole another pass on Schenectady Christian’s ensuing possession and passed the ball to Lloyd. Lloyd then made a great pass inside to Nick Kinisky who finished the play with a basket.

Bowman made two foul shots for Schenectady Christian, but Voorheesville had the final answer in the half as Kinisky scored on a running one-handed lay-up with one second left in the second quarter to give the Birds a 26-19 halftime lead.

"Playing great"

The Blackbirds would never trail again even though they were outscored in the third quarter, 10-8.

Voorheesville put the game away early in the fourth quarter.

After a drive to the basket by Bowman, Mackey made his own strong drive to the hoop. Bowman made a foul shot to make the score 36-32 at the 6:28 mark, but Schenectady Christian would not score again until Bishop made a three-point shot with 2:43 left in the contest.

In the meantime, Voorheesville scored 10 points.

Lloyd hit a shot in the lane and that was followed by a three-pointer from Klembczyk. Kinisky connected on his own three-point shot just as the shot clock buzzer went off. Christner added a short jump shot and the Blackbirds led by 14 points, 46-32, with 3:11 left in the contest.

Bishop’s three-pointer cut the lead to 11 points, 46-35, and Bowman scored inside to make it 46-37 with 2:21 left in the game.

Klembczyk made a foul shot with 1:53 left, but Bowman made two of his own to make the score 47-39 with 1:30 left.

Bowman scored off an in-bounds pass to cut the lead to six points but the Blackbirds were getting fouled and answering at the free throw line.

Lloyd made both ends of a one-and-one opportunity with 1:26 left and Mackey made one with 1:09 left to make the score 50-41.

Bowman made a turnaround jump shot with 1:01 left to cut the lead to seven points, 50-43.

Lloyd made two more foul shots and Mackey added another to build the lead to 10 points, 53-43. Kinisky added one more foul shot, as did Bowman to round out the scoring and give Voorheesville a 10-point win.
"We were nervous playing in Glens Falls," Christner said of his team’s slow start. "I haven’t played here much. We had to get focused and we started playing great."

Christner led the Blackbirds with 16 points. Mackey scored 14 points and was a force grabbing 11 rebounds during of the contest. Lloyd scored 10 points and Kinisky chipped in with eight points for Voorheesville.
"Evan is our big man inside," Lloyd said. "And ‘E’ hits the mid-range jumpers. When those two are playing well, we’re tough to stop."

Bowman did finish the game with 18 points for Schenectady Christian. Serafinovski added 11 points for the Falcons.
"We thought that, going in, we might have had a mismatch with them," Catellier said. "Their two big guys both had more quickness and we might have trouble staying with their two kids. But we knew we could get the ball inside and could handle the boards. And we were able to."

In Catellier’s four years as head coach of the Blackbirds, this marks the third trip the team has made to Glens Falls, deep into the sectionals. The Birds made it to the Class B semifinals in 2006, but lost to eventual champion Schuylerville.
"We’ve been here three out of the last four years," Catellier said. "And we’ve been to the finals in two of those years. That’s not a bad four-year run. That shows we have good kids as well."

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