Since we weren't able to do much live blogging Wednesday night from the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals, we've got plenty left over to post here on the blog. Here's some notes, observations and plenty of quotes that didn't make the print edition:
* Markus Mathews scored the first five points of the game, including a three-pointer, to help Bennett to a 5-2 lead against McKinley. Dwain Laws also had five points, including a three-pointer, for Bennett in the first quarter. The Tigers used an opportunistic defense to create steals. As you'll read later in this post, McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey called his offense tentative in the first eight minutes.
* Bennett's Dion Artis has a ton of athleticism, but often met with McKinley's Shaquille Holman at the basket. Holman was a huge presence in the game, blocking five shots and altering several others. In a two-point game (47-45 McKinley), that made all the difference.
* Bennett's free-throw shooting was a huge reason for the Tigers loss. Coach Randy Rakowski estimated after the game his team had shot between 50 and 60 percent (he hadn't looked at the stats yet), a number that sounded right.
* Here's my first shot at stealing a page from Keith McShea's playbook and posting a video. Sorry it's only one relatively standard play, Antonio Averyscoring on a backdoor cut and nice pass from Tamar Redden. I'm still learning the video game (and trying to figure out how Keith handles 15 things at once).
Here's some additional quotes from the game:
Bennett coach Randy Rakowski
On going to a press in the fourth quarter: "It was almost do or die at that point. You have to give them pressure. It seemed to be working. It got us back in the game and almost ahead, but we just fell a few baskets short there at the end."
On the end-to-end play: "That’s how it is when you pay in sectionals against another Yale Cup team. You can go back and forth like that. Sometimes we’ve been down and we’ve had to come back. You never count any team out and you never count yourself out, You just keep plugging away and making adjustments and go from there."
McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey
His breakdown of the game: "I thought the first quarter we played really slow and kind of tentative. Second quarter we got going, third quarter was pretty good. Fourth quarter we kind of relaxed and were careless with the ball. We didn’t rebound as well."
On Shaquille Holman: "His presence was big tonight. It’s been big all year. He’s averaging about four or five blocks per game. All of the city kids know each other, they play recreation ball, they play AAU ball together. They know what he can do around the basket. He was a big force."
On other contributors and the team's outlook: "Erik Simmons was big for us tonight. He grew up a lot. We've got one more game to win. Our goal coming in was Glens Falls. We’ve got six losses, but we learned from every one of them.
On protecting the rim: "I rely on my teammates to force [other teams' players] into me to block their shots. Without them [his teammates], I wouldn’t get that many blocks."
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