According to the old adage “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters”. Well Tuesday night in Mechanicville the homestanding Red Raiders started fast and finished strong in posting a 66-50 victory over the Catholic Central Crusaders in the season-opener for both squads.
Junior Josh Germain buried a triple on Mechanicville’s first possession starting a 9-1 run that saw that Raiders scored the first four times they touched the ball.
Senior forward Nick Billert scored off an inbounds play, Devin Garland added a transition bucket and Luciano D’Ambro capped the spurt with a scoring drive before Liam MacDonald got the first Crusader bucket to go on a putback.
Midway through the first Anthony Attala scored off a D’Ambro screen giving the Raiders a 14-6 advantage, but Catholic Central followed with a Patrick Clinton bucket, on a nice feed from MacDonald, and a Jackson Brown three trimming the Mechanicville lead to 14-11.
The Raiders closed the period on a 9-2 run highlighted by a long Garland jumper and a Billert putback at the buzzer for a 21-13 cushion.
The two teams played evenly throughout the second period, Billert leading the Mechanicville attack with six points, while five different Crusaders scored in the quarter ending with a Brown triple and teams went to the break with Mechanicville leading at 30-24.
After a Raider basket to start the third, Dan Callahan scored on a putback and a three ball for the Crusaders that was quickly answered by a Germain three and a Garland drive for the Raiders as they held a seven point edge at 36-29 three minutes in.
But the Crusaders wouldn’t go away and put together a 14-6 run capped with a long three by Jack Siple, and an old fashioned three point play from Peter Manley giving Catholic Central their only lead of the night at 43-42 with 2:00 remaining in the third.
That lead was short-lived as Attala drilled a triple and free throws by Tyller Dion and Germain pushed the Raiders back in front 48-43 heading to the fourth.
Mechanicville blitzed the Crusaders to open the final period on six quick points by Billert and a steal and score by Attala pushing the lead to 57-45 with 5:00 left. The proverbial nail in the coffin came at the 3:40 mark when Germain drained a trey for the 61-47 advantage and this one belonged to the Raiders.
On the night Brown with 11 points and McDonald with 10 led the Catholic Central attack.
For Mechanicville it was Billert showing the way with 17 points, Germain adding 12 and Attala scoring 11 points for a Raider squad that showed plenty of signs on opening night.