By Aidan Joly
Despite a strong fourth quarter comeback effort by Saratoga, Niskayuna hung on and stayed undefeated with a 53-46 win on Tuesday night at Saratoga Springs High School.
The Blue Streaks trailed by 15 at the beginning of the final stanza and 13 with less than five minutes to play and things looked bleak. However, the group stayed poised and went on an 11-2 run that put them to within three points with about 90 seconds to play, a run that was highlighted by a three-pointer from Dillon Waite with 3:48 to play. That run lasted about three minutes before Niskayuna scored the final four points of the night to put the game on ice.
“We have four seniors on the floor who have been through this before. We’ve been on both sides of it. We’re just leaning on those seniors to make the right plays, be strong with the ball, make our free throws, make good decisions and close teams out on the road,” Niskayuna head coach Mike Grasso said.
The key portion of the game for the Silver Warriors was the run that they went on late in the second quarter, ending the first half on a 9-1 run to give them a double-digit lead at the break. They also scored the first four points of the second half to put themselves up 16, which was the largest lead of the night.
“I thought Gavin [Olsen] and Kasper Matia gave us two huge sparks off the bench rebounding and running the floor,” Grasso said. “It was really nice to see those young guys step up and really contribute in that second quarter.”
Outside of that run, Saratoga played pretty evenly with Niskayuna, only trailing by two at the end of the first quarter and out-scoring them by eight in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as hitting shots and that’ll get you on the right side of things,” Saratoga head coach Matt Usher said. “[Niskayuna] has a couple guys that are very good at knocking down jump shots from the perimeter and they went on some big runs and got some separation. We tried to fight back.”
Niskayuna was led by Owen Evans, who finished the night with 13 points, while Sam Booth and Jack Allen had 10 each. For Saratoga it was a more balanced attack, with Hutton Snyder, Evan Ash and Ethan Straughter scoring nine each with Waite adding eight.
Niskayuna is now 7-0 with the loss, while Saratoga falls to 3-5.
“They fought back really hard in the fourth quarter,” Grasso said. “They battled, they’re a great group, coach Usher does a heck of a job with them and we’re glad to get out of here with a win.”