SLOW IS PLAY O.K.
Blue Streaks win slow, low scoring contest for 18th straight win
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » The only constant Tuesday night in the Saratoga Springs boys varsity Suburban Council finale against Shaker was the win. The Blue Streaks earned their 18th consecutive win in its lowest scoring contest of the season, with the lowest total points total between two opponents and hit just four three-pointers on the night.
It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to hold off Shaker, 38-35, on Saratoga’s senior night as the number Suburban Council seed gets ready for the post season beginning next week.
Shaker (10-7 Suburban Council, 12-7 overall) opened the contest with a 6-1 run before Saratoga (17-1 league, 18-2 overall) went on it’s own 7-2 run with Aidan Holmes hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give the Blue Streaks a 13-12 lead to end the first quarter.
Things didn’t get any faster on the floor or prettier as Shaker made Saratoga pay for any missed shots, but the Blue Bison struggled on its own end of the floor and forced the tempo to a much slower, deliberate speed in the fourth quarter down, 33-26.
“They wanted to slow it down and we were fine with that,” Saratoga Springs coach Matt Usher said. “We can play slow in the half court and win games like that.
“I did not like how we rebounded the ball tonight, I thought we gave them too many extra possessions instead of taking 25 or 30 seconds off the clock they were able to take almost a minute off the clock with those offensive rebounds.”
The Blue Streak millennials got a taste of oldschool four corner offense from Shaker coach Jamie Haver, asking his point guard to dribble the ball inside the time line, pleading patience as the shot clock wound down and with less than 15 seconds left, then run the Bison offensive set.
“It’s different,” Saratoga Springs’ Brian Hart said. “We were standing in the corners watching our man, they would literally waste 15, 20 seconds off the clock and then they would start their offense.
“It was weird to adjust, they got offensive boards off of it. We definitely struggled with it, so if we face them in the playoffs we’re going to have to adjust and work on things in practice.”
The waiting wasn’t the hardest part for Saratoga Springs, it was the Bison’s play on a miss out of the stalling offensive set.
“Our guys are not used to it, but you have to continue to defend and rebound and take good shots and if you do that you can get a sixpoint lead to a 10-point lead and we struggled to do that tonight,” Usher said. “If we got that lead to 10 points I don’t think they would have been stalling as much as they were at the end.”
In another rarity, Blue Streak Nick Chudy was the lone player in double-figures Tuesday night, leading the balanced scoring attack that has led to Saratoga’s success, hitting just one three-pointer with Matt Larkin hitting two on the night.
“Against Shen we hit a lot of 3s, but it shows that we’re versatile and can score in many different ways, inside the arc and sometimes outside,” Hart said. “Tonight it wasn’t our night behind the threepoint line so we adjusted and it worked out.”
There is no column in the standings for an ‘ugly win’ but the Blue Streaks closed out the regular season on a high note and a long to-do list for their break before their first Class AA playoff game expected to be late next week at Hudson Valley Community College.
“This is a wake-up call, it was good for these guys to know that there is a lot that we need to work on,” Usher said. “Sometimes when you win you can start buying into people saying you are really good. “There are a lot of things we need to work on to get better and I know these guys will come into practice and be ready to work and they’ll but into whatever we are trying to improve.”
Saratoga Springs senior Nick Chudy goes up and over Shaker’s Jacob Cook as he is forced to alter his shot under the basket Tuesday night at Saratoga Springs High School. Feb. 13, 2018.
Saratoga Springs senior Brian Hart looks to hold off Shaker’s Devin Mahoneyy as he has a hold of him under the basket Tuesday night at Saratoga Springs High School. Feb. 13, 2018.