Dutchmen suffer another defeat in the finals

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Blocked at every turn: Defense ruled during Tuesday’s Class AA final in Albany; Guilderland and Shenendehowa both shot under 35 percent. Here, Michael Wine jumps high for the Dutch as he tries to put a shot over Brandon Fischer. Wine scored seven points in the loss.

ALBANY — Heartbroken after a loss in the finals, Guilderland basketball players congregated in silence. The hallway was utterly quiet as some players stared at the ground or checked their phones.

A few Dutchmen teammates shared hugs before the mass of red warm-ups disappeared behind the curtain and towards the bus for what was sure to be an agonizing ride home.

Shenendehowa (22-0) had just raised the Class AA championship plaque due to an excellent defensive showing against Guilderland. The Plainsmen won by five points, 47 to 42, but it seemed as though the Dutchmen had been digging a hole to China throughout the game — it just wasn’t going to get to where it wanted.

 It was the second consecutive loss for Guilderland in the sectional finals; Green Tech defeated the Dutch last year.

“I want to thank all of my coaches and everyone who has been on this ride with me — Coach O, Coach Parks, my teammates,” said Guilderland senior Ralph Simeone after Tuesday’s game. “We were right there each year, and it sucks not being able to pull it off, but congrats to Shen. They played great all season.”

Head Coach Mike Parks, who led Guilderland (19-4) back to the title game in his first season at the helm, said that it was hard to come up with words after the outcome; he had no speech prepared. “You always expect to win the game,” he said, adding, “We had a great ride, unbelievable — it’s so hard to get to the final game.”

Tuesday’s final did not dazzle with offense; defense was executed too well. Guilderland started shaky, then went on a 7-0 scoring run, which was followed by Shenendehowa’s 13-0 scoring run that lasted into the second quarter. From that moment on, the Dutchmen were treading water.

Guilderland was within striking distance for practically the entire game — down eight or 10 points — but couldn’t find any rhythm on offense. Shen’s zone defense was excellent, holding Andrew Platek to 15 points below his average, and forcing other Dutch players to step up.

Knowing what Shenendehowa was going to bring with its defense, Guilderland came prepared with some new offensive sets, Simeone said, “but they answered everything. We went on runs, they answered them all. They had an answer for everything.”

In the fray: Guilderland lost the Class AA final to Shenendehowa, 47 to 42, on Tuesday in Albany. Here, senior Ralph Simeone, who scored seven points for the Dutchmen, pursues the hoop. Guilderland shot 28 percent from the field (16 of 57). The Enterprise — Michael Koff


“We wanted to tag the shooters,” Shen Head Coach Tony Dzikas said of the plan for Guilderland. “We were efficient at that, barring a couple possessions where we were covering some guys who aren’t really shooters, but, most of all, we did a really good job. We tried to tag the guys who could shoot, and lay off the guys who cannot.”

Andrew Sischo was the only consistent scorer for Guilderland, making eight of 12 shots for 17 points while grabbing nine rebounds. Kevin Huerter had spurts of greatness for Shen with a game-high 20 points.

“We got good looks; I thought we had good looks all night,” Parks said. “We needed to make more shots.”

It stinks to lose a final, Parks said, but he thinks his players should feel accomplished for getting back to the big game. The Dutchmen will start working towards that goal again soon, maybe even in a few weeks.

“Watch out for Guilderland next year,” Simeone concluded. “They’re coming back strong.”

No place to go: Guilderland’s star shooter, Andrew Platek, right, was held in check by Shenendehowa’s Drew Lewis, left, during the Class AA championship on Tuesday night. Platek shot six times and made four free throws for nine points. Shenendehowa won by five points, and Kevin Huerter led the way with 20 points. The Enterprise — Michael Koff


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