Recorder Sports Staff
TROY - The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots didn't play like an overwhelmed or overmatched team in Friday night's Section II Class B quarterfinal game against the Watervliet Cannoneers - the Patriots simply couldn't muster the offense necessary to keep pace with their high-powered, hyper-athletic foes.
With the star duo of Jordan Gleason and Tyler McLeod leading the way for Watervliet, B-P couldn't convert enough of its easy offensive opportunities to stay in contact during the second half as the top-seeded Cannoneers steadily pulled away for a 55-27 victory at Hudson Valley Community College.
"I'm happy with our effort, I thought we battled and went after them. We struggled offensively," said B-P (9-11) head coach Tucker Gifford.
Gleason scored a game-high 14 points for the Cannoneers (11-8), while Shane Ray and Isaiah Bruce added 10 points apiece and McLeod contributed nine. Andre Taylor posted 11 points to lead the way for B-P, but when the Patriots had a chance to close the gap on Watervliet after scoring the first four points of the third quarter, B-P's offense stalled.
Down 14 points and with momentum on their side, the Patriots couldn't convert open shots and were outscored 9-0 over the remainder of the quarter as Watervliet opened up an insurmountable gap.
"When we had a chance to cut it to 10, we missed chippy after chippy," Gifford said. "We were getting stops at the other end, we just kept missing those easy ones. From 15 feet and in, we just couldn't finish, and that makes a big difference. We miss those, then they started scoring and it balloons to 20-plus."
In the first half, Watervliet controlled the game with an aggressive, athletic defense that consistently forced B-P into attempting to force shots from long distances and awkward angles. Though Watervliet coach Orlando DiBacco said he was wary of the Patriots spreading the ball around on the wide-open HVCC court, that rarely seemed to trouble the Cannoneers.
"I thought they spaced us out well, they had three or four different guys all handle the ball, and I thought we did a nice job of containing that," DiBacco said.
Though the final score ended up lopsided, Gifford said that for a young team that will lose only three players to graduation - Ben Bellandi, Mark Sylvia and Ryan Newfrock - the Patriots made tremendous strides just one season removed from the two-win 2011-12 campaign.
"It's a stepping stone for us. Coming from last year, where we didn't go to sectionals, to this year finishing 9-11, it's a decent year for us," Gifford said. "I only lose three guys, so we've got the pieces where we're going to take this to the next level next year."
After starting eighth-grader Preston Taylor at point guard and sophomore Chris Natoli at center throughout the season, and with three junior varsity call-ups - Connor Pingitore, Ryan Dingman and Damien Jabot - all seeing action Friday night, Gifford is confident B-P has the pieces in place to move forward over the next several years.
"I give credit to Ben, Mark and Ryan for giving us everything they've got, but the building blocks are there for the next few years," he said. "Now, we've got to do our job and take it to the next level."