The packed house at Mechanicville Friday night saw and heard a little of everything in the contest between the Red Raiders and the visiting Warriors from Stillwater. Sustained effort, high emotions, vocal fans, as well as specialty defenses, and at the end of the night the Warriors went home with a 63-54 victory and sole possession of first place in the Wasaren.
The game started with something you rarely see, both squads playing a gimmick defense.
The Red Raiders opened with a box and 1 on high scoring Mitchel Wayand, while Stillwater started in a triangle and 2 guarding Giovanni D’Ambro and Evan Dunn in man.
The Warriors broke from the gate quickly in the first. Jared D’Aloia drilled a jumper 30 seconds in, and after a C.J.Tironi free throw for the Raiders, Waymen bottomed a wing triple, Zack Travis scored inside off a nice look from Nate Thrane, and Brad Anderson hit a jumper in the lane for a 9-1 lead with 4:20 left in the period.
At the 2:25 mark a nice turn around jumper from the baseline by Tironi trimmed the Stillwater lead to 12-5 and that’s how the quarter ended as both team struggled offensively to find quality looks.
Two minutes into the second, the Warriors found their rhythm going on a 14-2 run. A pair of D’Aloia 3’s, and two Jayme Beniot jumpers highlighted the spurt that gave Stillwater a 19 point spread at 30-11 with 2:30 left in the half.
With the score approaching the point of no return for Mechanicville, the Raiders finished the quarter on a 6-1 run of their own off a Dunn steal and score, a Keegan McHale lay-in off a turnover, and a determined drive to the rim by Jacob Henes closing the gap to 31-17 at the break.
The Raiders continued to chip away at the lead, starting the third with four free throws and a nice jump hook from Jonathon Pickett forcing a Stillwater timeout with 5:52 left in the period, Mechanicville trailing 31-23.
The two teams traded points over the next five minutes before the Warriors closed the quarter with a pair of inside buckets by Travis, both coming off nice feeds from Wayand extending their lead to 43-31 heading to the fourth.
Two minutes into the final period saw Stillwater in control at 52-38, but the Raiders had one more run left.
Henes scored the next eight points for Mechanicville, and his floater at the 4:25 mark cut the lead to 53-45.
A baseline jumper by Anderson off a nice find from Travis pushed the Warrior lead back to 10, but D”Ambro scored six straight for Mechanicville and his lay-up off a Stillwater turnover with 2:55 left brought the Raiders to within six at 57-51.
With 1:24 it was 59-54 after a McHale free throw, and on the ensuing possession D’Ambro stepped in for a charge on Wayand giving the ball back to the Raiders with 1:10 to play.
But a Mechanicville long ball from the top rimmed out, and Stillwater hit four of six free throws down the stretch to salt away the well earned “W”.
Henes led all scorers on the night with 19 points while D’Ambro added 10 for the 6-1, 9-2 Red Raiders.
D’Aloia with 18 points, Wayand 14, and Travis with 10 paced the victorious Warriors who improve to 7-0, 11-2 on the year.