|It's a good thing Tully coach Ryan Dando is young. Otherwise he might not be able to take all of the late-game trauma his basketball team has put him through. |
The Black Knights did it again on Saturday.
Junior forward Dan Hardy hit a leaner from five feet with 2.5 seconds to play to provide the winning points in Tully's 48-44 victory over Newfield in a Class C regional final. The win sends Tully, which won its first Section 3 boys basketball crown last week, to next weekend's final four in Glens Falls. The Knights will face Section 6 champion Randolph at 5 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
"We want to keep our fans into it, I guess," the 23-year-old Dando said with a laugh as he clutched the regional championship trophy on the court inside Oswego State's Laker Hall. "We just scored enough."
The Black Knights (18-7) have survived fantastic finishes in each of its last four games. A 52-50 nail-biter put Tully into last week's Class C-1 title game against Herkimer, where senior guard Zach Shute's late heroics preserved a 56-55 thriller. On Tuesday, the Knights needed a late basket from senior guard Sean Malone to hold off nemesis Onondaga 54-52 in a Class C overall championship game.
On Saturday, it was Hardy, the team's scoring leader who despite scoring 17 points had a less-than-stellar day shooting the ball.
"My shot wasn't on today," Hardy said. "I just tried to take it to the basket and get fouled. To make the basket was just a little something extra."
Hardy, who was fouled on the play, broke a 44-44 tie and gave Tully its first lead since early in the second quarter when the Knights held a 13-11 edge. Hardy's free throw made it 47-44, and a Shute free throw with 1.9 seconds remaining, the last of his 17 points, accounted for the final score.
Section 4 champion Newfield led by seven points midway through the fourth period before Tully clawed its way back.
"That's why you've got to play for 32 minutes," said Trojans coach Duane Barrett, whose club finishes at 18-5. "I thought (Tully) played extremely well at the end. A couple of times we thought we had them to the point where they were about to give up, but somebody would always manage to step up. They just kept fighting."
It wasn't just Hardy who made big plays down the stretch.
Tully seniors Shute and Malone dropped in 3-pointers in the final four minutes to key the comeback.
Malone's trey from deep in the corner, his only points of the day, came with 3:52 left and started Tully's march from a 40-33 deficit to a 41-41 tie. A basket by senior forward Jason Shaw made it 40-38. After a Newfield free throw, Shute hit another 3-pointer to tie the game with 2:23 left.
A 3-pointer by Newfield's Dusty Marshall, his fourth of the day, put the Trojans back up 44-41. But a Shaw free throw and a Hardy jumper tied it 44-44 with 50 seconds remaining.
Newfield had two chances in the final 40 seconds, but the Trojans missed from the field then clanged the front end of a 1-and-1 with 25 seconds left.
After Tully rebounded that miss, Dando called timeout with 18 seconds left to set up Tully's winning possession. The coach said the play wasn't designed for Hardy, because he knew the Trojans would key on him. Instead the Knights worked the ball to Shaw, but the 6-foot-5 forward was covered and passed out to Hardy.
"When Jason got pushed out and (the ball) got reversed to Dan at the top of the key, I said 'Good, that's the kid we want attacking the basket.' And he attacked and made the move," Dando said.
The game might not have been close had Tully shot better.
The Knights missed their first nine shots of the first quarter, hitting just 3-of-15 as they took an 11-9 lead. Tully continued to miss in the second quarter, hitting just 2 of 10 and scoring just six points as the game was tied 17-17 at the half. For the game, the Knights shot just 30 percent, but they made their final five tries from the field.
It was a physical battle, and the taller Knights went to the free-throw line a lot. The Knights hit 14 of 23 free throws.
"It's awesome," Malone said of the Knights' first trip to Glens Falls. "We were the underdogs all year long. We didn't think we were underdogs, but everyone else did. We're a tough team."
Dusty Marshall 5-2-16, Jake Ehrgott 6-2-15, Dustin James 1-2-4, Trevor Dolge 1-0-3, Jake Howell 1-0-2, Josh Delfino 1-0-2, Tom Bishop 1-0-2, Jeremey Clark 0-0-0, Greg Teeter 0-0-0, Danni Almonte 0-0-0. Totals: 16-6-44. 3-pt. goals: Dusty Marshall 4, Jake Ehrgott 1, Trevor Dolge 1. Trojans: 18-5.
Dan Hardy 6-5-17, Zack Shute 4-8-17, Bill Henderson 4-0-8, Sean Malone 1-0-3, Jason Shaw 1-1-3, Sam Fraser 0-0-0, Adam Baldassare 0-0-0. Totals: 16-14-48. 3-pt. goals: Sean Malone 1, Zack Shute 1. Black Knights: 18-7. Newfield98110- 44 Tully116141- 48