just one too many steps before releasing the ball more than half court with 00.5 seconds left on the clock.
In practice the ball would have returned to Saratoga with the time left and the game could have headed to overtime, but Albany High coach Sean Brown questioned the call and made his way across the court to the referee. He then moved to the top of the key at the Saratoga end with his players.
On the floor, without calling for a timeout and the biggest infraction, remaining near his bench during play, he was assessed a technical foul and this time it was senior Aidan Holmes who was sent to the line for two free throws with the 00.5 seconds left on the clock.
He sank both for the 5755 win.
“I mean a lot going on obviously. I don’t know exactly what happened in technical, who knows?,” Aidan Holmes said. “But every time you get up to the lines, the same mindset, just knock them down. Just like practice.”
The two important shots capped a contest where, all too similar to last season the Blue Streaks built a lead, held it through the third and part of the fourth quarter before creating another nailbiting finish for fans and its coaching staff.
“I’m sure that was entertaining watching them hit shot after shot after shot in the fourth quarter, but credit to Albany, they made some big shots down the stretch and I actually thought we played pretty composed,” Saratoga Springs coach Matt Usher said. “I know we missed some shots down, you know, down the stretch in the fourth quarter, but we didn’t turn it over. I thought we made some good decisions and, we’ll learn from it.
“We hit a free throw at the end to get the win, so yeah, I mean I’m glad he knocked them down,” Usher said. “I’m glad we didn’t have to go to OT because they had some momentum. I saw some good things tonight, especially in the first half getting the lead. Defensively, I thought we played really well in stretches, but we need to play 32 minutes so we’ll, we’ll talk about that tomorrow.”
On thing that was clear in the Blue Streaks home opener is that this team can score.
Holmes finished with a game-high 21 points with junior Michael Rogan dropping in 13 with junior Christian Dufort adding nine, including a key three-pointer late in the third.
“Some of these guys are in new roles this season, they’re playing more minutes, they’re taking bigger shots,” Usher said. “We’re looking to them to, to make plays down the stretch when we need me to bucket or a stop. I think as they get more time and more comfortable with those roles,hopefully they just continue to improve on and we can figure out some of the other things, you know, on both sides.”
With the graduation of Saratoga’s big men, Nate Chudy and Will Fox, the Blue Streaks are smaller, but tenacious..
“I know we don’t have as much size as we did last year, but I think you’ve got some tough, tough, gritty kids that will work hard and buy into to getting stops on every possession,” Usher said. “Hopefully we can continue to improve on defense and figure out some of the roles moving forward.
Returning senior leader and last night’s hero at the line, Holmes, confidence is high for the defending Class AA champs.
“We lost, we lost a lot of guys, but you’ve got your guys coming right in filling those roles,” Holmes said. “They’re not the same players but they are just coming up and doing, playing their game, just learning how to play together. Everyone playing their own game, doing what they do well. I think it’s going to work out.”
Saratoga Springs junior Luke Britton goes up for a shot, defended by Albany High’s Rasier Chandler in the first half of Wednesday’s Suburban Council tilt at Saratoga Springs High School.