The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys basketball team needed more than a miracle to defeat Jamesville-DeWitt Saturday. It needed a 12-foot moveable brick wall.
That would have been the only thing that could have stopped Dajuan Coleman.
Jamesville-DeWitt’s 6-foot, 8-inch tall sophomore center that’s right, a 6-8 sophomore scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A team past an undersized, out-gunned BH-BL squad 67-32 in last Saturday’s regional final at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Spartans (11-12) did everything they could to stop Coleman and his Red Ram teammates, but a 30-8 third quarter did them in.
`I thought we had a lot of energy at the beginning,` said BH-BL coach George Dudas. `Obviously, their size took over.`
Coleman wasn’t the only Jamesville-DeWitt player creating problems for the Spartans. Guard Lamar Kearse started hitting three-pointers during the decisive third-quarter run and finished with 17 points for the Red Rams (22-0).
Meanwhile, BH-BL never got its offense going. Jamesville-DeWitt’s big men kept Zach Morton and Jacob Meyers away from the basket, and outside of Keaton Flint’s 12-point night, the Spartans had a hard time hitting jump shots.
`[Their size] took us out of our element,` said Dudas. `I told the guys before the game we’d have to play a near-perfect game and hit some 15-footers, which we had trouble with in this gym [before].`
`I thought we came out and defended really well,` said Jamesville-DeWitt coach Bob McKenney. `We knew No. 32 [Morton] was a great player, and I thought we defended him well.`
The loss ended an improbable playoff run for BH-BL. After finishing the regular season with a 7-11 record, the Spartans overcame a poor shooting performance to upset South Glens Falls 28-27 in the Section II quarterfinals. From there, they defeated Ichabod Crane and Lansingburgh to win their first Sectional title in five years.
`I couldn’t be prouder of these kids. They came out and got beat by a better team today,` said Dudas.
BH-BL survived another bad shooting night to defeat Section X champion Massena 39-31 in last Friday’s regional semifinal and earn the right to face Jamesville-DeWitt.
The Spartans made only two of their 24 shots from the field in the first half, yet they trailed only 16-7 at halftime thanks to some stingy defense on their part.
`I told the guys that if all of the sudden we start executing in the second half and start hitting our shots, we’re right back in this game,` said Dudas.
It took the Spartans the first three minutes of the third quarter to finally get their offense in gear, but once they started clicking, Massena (18-5) couldn’t stop them. A pair of three-pointers by Brandon Beatty got BH-BL within five points at 20-15. Then following a pair of Keaton Flint free throws, Philip Neumann drained a three from the top of the key to tie the game at 20.
Flint gave the Spartans their first lead of the night late in the third quarter with a baseline three-pointer. Massena made some free throws to briefly regain the lead before Jake Batty hit a transition layup in the final minute to put BH-BL ahead 25-24.
The Spartans were in control from that point on. They opened the fourth quarter with an 8-3 run and received some late free throws by Bret Dennis to seal the victory.
Beatty scored 12 points, and Flint contributed 10 points for BH-BL. Taylor Elsner netted eight points for Massena, which made three of its last 17 shots.“
Associate editor/sports editor