Panthers crush Spa Catholic
They sent out a strong message: It's going to take a complete effort to get past the Panthers.
Jon Kempf led all scorers with 26 points — 19 in the first half — and Evan McCart scored 15, all in the opening half, as the Panthers blew out an undermanned Saratoga Central Catholic, 80-41, to win the Wasaren League title.
McCart set the tone early, scoring nine points in the opening quarter, but all five starters for the Panthers scored in the first quarter as they took a commanding 21-7 lead after the first eight minutes.
"We talked about not letting some of their main guys get comfortable shooting the ball," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac.
Terel Tillman, one of the Saints' top scorers, was held to two points.
It was more of the same in the second as the Panthers continued to play at a breakneck pace. Hoosick went on a 16-2 run, led by Kempf, who had 14 points in the quarter, many on steals and transition layups.
The Panthers had 13 steals on the night, led by Kempf's three.
"We're still feeling our way through, they did a good job of setting screens to get Jon open," Lilac said. "Evan does his stuff [in the paint], he's so athletic. And [Guy] Milliman is our leader out there, he does a little of everything."
Milliman had 10 points, four rebounds and two steals, along with a handful of assists.
Early in the third, Spa Catholic's Sean Englert and McCart got tangled up on a drive inside and each got into the other's face, prompting the officials and coaches to break up the altercation.
Englert, who had committed the original foul, fouled out with 7:15 left in the third, while McCart was given a technical foul.
With the score already at 47-17 Panthers at that point, Lilac took McCart out for the rest of the game to prevent the senior from any more problems. A second technical could have resulted in McCart missing the next game.
"I think the kid was frustrated, but Evan can't react like that," Lilac said. "We haven't had anything happen like that, so it was out of character for him. I took him out for the rest of the night."
The tempers cooled, but the Panthers kept the foot on the accelerator, outscoring Spa Catholic 18-3 in the third to take a 65-20 lead to the fourth.
Lilac subbed liberally in the final eight minutes as the Saints made the score a bit more respectable.
"I told the kids to stay positive and get something out of it," said Spa Catholic coach Ken Mantia. "We're realistic, we knew what we were up against, but we wanted to stay within running our offense, working hard on defense, finding their shooters nad I thought we played better in the second half. It was a good sign that the kids kept a good attitude throughout the game."
The leader for that was Spa Catholic sophomore Aidan Dagostino, who had 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
"He's a sophomore, so you grow in a game like this," Mantia said. "You don't win them all, you take some lumps and I think he showed some maturity."
Spa Catholic had three of their starters missing, including Tyler Haraden (fractured foot), Sam Haraden (flu) and Ryan McFadden (strained MCL).
The Panthers and Saints, who are both 16-4, await their playoff seeding this week in Class C.
"We'll probably be No. 2 behind Lake George, but there's a lot of good teams in Class C, all the way down, there's a lot of 13-7, 12-8 teams in C, quality teams, everyone is going to be 0-0 in a couple days."
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