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.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Struggling through five overtime periods against Columbia on Wednesday night, Guilderland outlasted the Blue Devils, 102 to 100, in the Class AA semifinals at the Times Union Center. Here, sophomore Andrew Platek, middle, who threw down a dunk during the game, tries to hold onto the ball for the Dutch. Billy Floyd, Matt Cerutti, and Marc Du Moulin combined for 79 points for Guilderland.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Foul? Guilderland’s Ralph Simeone, left, gets the ball knocked out of his hands by Christian Brothers Academy’s Matt Hamel during last Saturday’s Class AA quarterfinal at Hudson Valley Community College. The Dutchmen won, 54 to 43, after being down at halftime, and then played Columbia on Wednesday night in the semifinals.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

The basketball hovers over the fingers of sophomore Andrew Platek, who scored 14 points for the Dutchmen last Saturday against Christian Brothers Academy in the Class AA quarterfinals; Guilderland won by 11 points. Billy Floyd scored 11 points for the Dutch, including two threes that gave the team the lead in the third quarter.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Shooting a free throw for Guilderland is senior Vince Simeone, who scored nine points in the Class AA quarterfinal win against Christian Brothers Academy last Saturday. Simeone averages about 13 points per game.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Sharp turn: Matt Cerutti, of Guilderland, dribbles away from Christian Ward of Christian Brothers Academy at Hudson Valley Community College last Saturday. The Dutch won the Class AA quarterfinal, 54 to 43, and Cerutti scored eight points; he averages about 11 points per game. 

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Guilderland teammates celebrate after winning a five-overtime Class AA semifinal as Columbia fans in the stands stare out in disbelief. The Dutchmen play Green Tech on Monday for the championship.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Jam session: Guilderland sophomore Andrew Platek dunks the ball during Wednesday's Class AA semifinal, which the Dutch won, 102 to 100, in five overtimes.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Desperation: Ralph Simeone, right, shoots a hook shot for Guilderland last Wednesday at the Times Union Center in the Class AA semifinals against Columbia. The Dutchmen won by two points in five overtimes.

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.

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