Patriots, Panthers to meet in semifinals

BROADALBIN – Broadalbin-Perth coach Tucker Gifford described the Section II Class B tournament as a four-game gauntlet.

The sixth-seeded Patriots have already passed the first two tests, defeating Schuylerville 63-56 and Hudson 70-53.

The Patriots’ journey continues tonight at the Glens Falls Civic Center in a semifinal matchup against second-seeded Hoosick Falls.

“We are in step three,” Gifford said. “It’s going to be an exciting game. I think we are two teams who are going to go at each other and it will come down to who wants to win the most.”

The Wasaren League champion Panthers enter tonight’s game with a 19-1 record after posting a 14-0 league record. Their lone loss came on the road against Mount Anthony of Bennington, Vt., 70-56. They later avenged the loss on their home floor 65-45.

Hoosick Falls advanced to the semifinals with a 73-28 opening-round victory over Coxsackie-Athens and a 56-48 quarterfinal win over Schalmont.

The Patriots (15-5 overall) advanced to the Civic Center with a 63-56 win over Schuylerville and downed Hudson 70-53 in their quarterfinal game.

The teams have a common opponent in Schuylerville. Hoosick Falls defeated the Black Horses twice in league play 65-56 and 56-32.

The Mike Lilac-coached Panthers are led by Mark Hackett, who has hit for 269 points this season including 43 3-pointers. Austin Pitt has chipped in with 244 points and Andrew Hoag has hit for 207, while Willy Bradley has connected for 31 3-pointers.

Hoosick Falls has averaged 60.65 points per game, while giving up an average of 48.8 points per game.

“They work very well as a team,” Gifford said. “They are very fundamentally sound and very disciplined.”

Andre Taylor leads the Patriots with 372 points this season, including 17 3-pointers, while Ryan Dingman has done damage from long distance, connecting for 61 3-pointers en route to his 281 points this year. Chris Natoli has come on strong in the post season to give the Patriots a strong inside presence, while Gifford has utilized his deep bench to keep fresh legs on the court in a high-intensity defensive scheme.

Being the sixth seed, the Patriots are the lowest among the final four Class B teams at the Civic Center. B-P and Hoosick Falls are joined by top-seeded Voorheesville and No. 5 Mechanicville in the other semifinal game.

The Patriots can look at being the sixth seed two ways – as a reason to play loose because they aren’t expected to advance or to get fired up because they received a sixth seed after facing and defeating several Class A schools most of the season.

Two of their losses came against Scotia-Glenville, the top-ranked Class A team in the state, Gloversville, Queensbury and Class B state-ranked Cohoes. Broadalbin-Perth came back to defeat both Queensbury and Gloversville.

“You can look at it either way,” Gifford said “You can say we are the underdog, but at this point seeding doesn’t matter, records don’t matter and rankings don’t matter. It is really about who goes out and proves they want to win more than the other team. They [Hoosick Falls] have all of them. They are 19-1, seeded second and ranked 13th in the state. But at this point, it’s whoever goes out and plays their game.”

Gifford said the Patriots are focused and ready for the challenge of playing at the Civic Center with a chance to play for the Class B championship.

“I think we are ready. We had a good practice Sunday but at this time of year there aren’t that many more wrinkles you can throw in,” he said. “I tell the team every year if we are playing in March we are doing well and Saturday is March 1. That is always our goal, to be playing in March.”

Broadalbin-Perth and Hoosick Falls will tip-off in the second game of the night at 6:30 p.m., while Voorheesville and Mechanicville are scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

The winners advance to the Section II Class B title game Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Glens Falls Civic Center.