Cougars advance to Class C semifinals

TROY – All season long, the Canajoharie boys basketball team has found itself in tight spots.

On Saturday, the fourth-seeded Cougars found themselves in an usual position – playing with a lead for much of the game in a 56-44 win over 12th-seeded Stillwater in a Class C quarterfinal contest at Hudson Valley Community College.

“We’re not used to having double-digit leads,” Canajoharie coach Phil Schoff said.

The Cougars were led by Dillan Veeder’s 22-point effort.

Veeder scored the majority of his points from the free-throw line, going 13-for-17 for the game and 8-for-10 in the fourth quarter.

“I can’t say enough about Dillan Veeder,” Schoff said. “He’s a warrior and a gym rat.”

Canajoharie also got 14 points from Kevin Shannon and nine points from both Josh Gonzalez and Zach Bowerman.

“I’m ecstatic. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Schoff said of reaching the Section II Class C semifinals in his first season as coach.

Shawn McNeil scored 14 points to lead Stillwater, while John Hoin added 11 points.

The Cougars got off to a slow start falling behind 5-2 in the opening minutes of the game before using a 5-0 burst to take a 7-5 lead. The lead changed hands 10 times in the opening quarter.

“I thought it was a hard-fought, typical sectional game,” Stillwater coach David Cook said.

The final lead change came at the buzzer when Veeder was fouled near midcourt on a buzzer-beating heave. He converted 2 of 3 free throws to give the Cougars a 13-12 lead after one quarter.

The foul was the seventh of the opening quarter for the Warriors.

“Foul trouble hurt us the whole game,” Cook said.

Canajoharie capitalized in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 9-6 to take a 22-18 lead into the half.

Shannon scored seven of the Cougars’ nine points in the frame.

The Cougars extending their advantage to as many as 12 points in the third quarter, eventually taking a 38-28 lead into the fourth.

“It’s tough to play from behind,” Cook said. “When you’re behind you’ve got to do something.”

Veeder scored eight of the Cougars’ 16 points in the fourth quarter.

McNeil scored six points in the third to lead Stillwater and 10 of his 14 points in the second half.

“He’s a really solid player in the middle,” Cook said. “Not having him in there in the first half hurt us.”

Canajoharie pushed its lead to 14 points early in the fourth quarter after back-to-back baskets by Bowerman and Gonzalez.

However, the Warriors cut the lead to seven with a 9-2 surge that was bookended by a pair of 3-pointers by Dean Gazelli.

“[Stillwater] did a great job at the end of the game to make it interesting,” Schoff said.

Veeder helped keep the Cougars in from, hitting 8 of 10 free throws in the final 3:01 of the game to help seal the win.

“Canajoharie made plays and they deserve to move on,” Cook said. “[Canajoharie] is a good team. They deserve our respect and they have it. They’re going to be a tough out.”

Canajoharie advances to Wednesday’s Class C semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Cougars will face No. 1 seed Hoosic Valley at 8 p.m. Hoosic Valley advanced with a 50-45 win over No. 8 seed Rensselaer in the quarterfinals Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.

“We’re going to go into the next game with high expectations, but respect for our opponent,” Schoff said.

Stillwater, who upset No. 5 seed Schoharie in the first round 56-54, finished the season with a 10-10 overall record.

“These kids never gave up and never quit,” Cook said.

Canajoharie 56, Stillwater 44

Stillwater12 6 10 16 – 44

Canajoharie13 9 16 18 – 56

Stillwater

McNeil 7-0-14, Hoin 4-0-11, McCumber 0-1-1, Hill 4-1-9, Stickney 1-1-3, Gazelli 2-0-6. Totals 18-3-44.

Canajoharie

Gonzalez 3-2-9, Taylor 0-2-2, Bowerman 3-2-9, Shannon 4-3-14, Folts 1-0-2, Veeder 4-13-22. Totals 15-19-56.

3-point goals: Stillwater 5 (Hoin 3, Gazelli 2); Canajoharie 6 (Shannon 3, Gonzalez, Veeder, Bowerman).