The schedule-makers couldn’t have done much better when they drew up the 2015-16 campaign. Friday night in Stillwater the Warriors welcome their neighboring rival the Red Raiders of Mechanicville with the league crown, or at least a portion of it on the line.
Stillwater enters with a 12-1 league record, a game in front of 11-2 Mechanicville, and 11-2 Hoosick Falls. If the Raiders and Panthers post “W’s”, all three schools would share a piece of the championship pie, but with a Warrior win, Stillwater would feast alone.
The Warriors average 63.5 points per game, and allow 50.7 defensively. They have made 125 three pointers on the year and shoot 65% from the free throw line.
Senior Mitchel Wayand leads the Stillwater attack scoring 25.5 per with 70 makes from deep on the year. Juniors Jared D’Aloia and Zack Travis combine for 27 points nightly, and D’Aloia is another 3-ball threat for the Warriors with 41 triples on the season.
Mechanicville scores 60.2 per contest, and on the other side of the ball gives up 51 points to their opponents. The Raiders have hit 77 three’s this year, and shoot 70.5% from the charity stripe.
A trio of seniors lead the Raider attack with Evan Dunn scoring 16.5 points, Giovanni D’Ambro 11.9, and C.J.Tironi 11.5. Dunn and D’Ambro shoot it well from downtown combining for 51 makes from behind the arc.
Both teams enter Friday night playing well with Mechanicville riding a six game winning streak, while Stillwater has won 7 0f their last 8.
In their first meeting back on January 8th, the Warriors prevailed 63-54. It was a great atmosphere that night in Mechanicville with aggressive play on the floor, and the bleachers filled with both schools faithful, in full voice.
In that game Raider head coach Rian Richardson, and Warrior mentor Dave Cook had their teams come out in gimmick looks defensively.
Mechanicville played a box and one on the high-scoring Wayand, while Stillwater went with a triangle and two guarding Dunn and D’Ambro man to man.
Gimmick defenses are designed to slow down top scorers, and disrupt offensive flow in general. They also force players not accustomed to scoring the ball, to do just that.
On that January night Mechanicville’s Jacob Henes stepped up and scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Raiders. On the Stillwater side of things while D’Aloia, Wayand and Travis combined for 42 points, senior Jayme Benoit scored his season-high of eight big points off the Warrior bench in the victory.
It will be interesting to see what the two coaching staffs dial up defensively for this one, and if they again go with box and triangle looks, which players on either squad will step up and knock down big shots.
A wealth of talent on the floor, with raucous fan bases in the stands, and a share of the Wasaren title up for grabs makes this one a must see Friday night in Stillwater.