February 23, 2013

Sentinels win at buzzer, Patriots roll into 'C' finals

PLATTSBURGH — Ticonderoga led just once Friday, but that lead came when it mattered most.

Eric Nielsen hit a 3-pointer from the left baseline in the closing seconds to lift the Sentinels to a 54-53 win over Northern Adirondack in the Section VII Class C boys’ basketball semifinals at Plattsburgh High.

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“We were struggling offensively for most of the game, but just hard work on defense. I thought we applied pressure, didn’t give them easy looks,” Ticonderoga coach Joe Defayette said. “And we just fought and fought and fought. And we were lucky some of our shots fell at the end there.”

The second-seeded Sentinels will face AuSable Valley in the championship game March 2 at the Plattsburgh State Field House.

Ticonderoga was down 10 heading into the fourth quarter. Michael Graney missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but came up with the ball and knocked down a three, and then Mark Donohue made two free throws to bring Ticonderoga within five. Anthony Dushane put the Sentinels within four in the middle of the quarter, but the Bobcats stretched it back to a nine-point game.

Down by seven with about a minute left, the Sentinels missed a wide-open layup.

“I didn’t want to just give fouls because NAC was making their foul shots,” Defayette said. “And we got lucky they missed a few down the stretch. But we were looking for steals before we fouled, and that worked out a couple times for us and we didn’t quite convert on all of them.”

Ty Denno drove and cut the lead to 52-48 with less than 40 seconds to go, and then Ticonderoga grabbed a steal and Graney sank a triple from the left wing.

Northern Adirondack’s Colby Sayah hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it 53-51. Then Nielsen got open in the corner and swished his three with less than 10 seconds left.

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