Boys Basketball in Section III Playoffs!
For a program that lost 33 consecutive games before the 2018-19 season, the mere fact that the Manlius-Pebble Hill boys basketball team will find itself in the Section III playoffs later this month is something to celebrate.
What’s more, the Trojans reached that eight-win mark with room to spare, doing so last Monday night against visiting Otselic Valley as it breezed to a 70-29 victory.
The entire margin was built in the first three quarters, MPH amassing a 39-15 lead by halftime and then stretching it out to 63-22 before the Trojans’ starters rested in the fourth quarter.
By himself, Kendale Thompson outscored Otselic, finishing his night with 27 points. Alex Abrams had 14 points, with Grant Lewis adding 12 points as the trio of Thompson, Abams and Lewis hit seven 3-pointers between them and Ahamd El-Hindi added 11 points.
Two nights later, MPH had a rematch with defending sectional Class C champion Tully, the team it beat 69-58 late in November to break that 33-game skid.
Remembering that defeat, the Black Knights got even, prevailing 58-35 as it bolted out to a 21-10 lead on the Trojans by the end of the first quarter and kept building the margin from there.
Try as it could, MPH’s offense could not get going, held to five points in the second quarter and eight points in the third, the Black Knights’ defense led by Sam Stoogenke, who had 10 rebounds and eight steals.
Overall, Thompson had 18 points and Lewis got 13 points, but the rest of the Trojans’ roster had just two field goals. For Tully, Jake Edinger had 24 points and 12 rebounds, with Tyler Edinger adding 19 points.
Hosting Stockbridge Valley Friday night, MPH quickly got back in the win column, prevailing 61-45 as it held the Cougars to four points in the second quarter and went in front after trailing 16-13 early.
Gradually, the Trojans drew clear in the second half as Thompson had yet another star turn, pouring in 35 points, mostly through 16 field goals, two of them 3-pointers. Lewis helped with 12 points, while Ahmad El-Hindi had six points.
That same night, Bishop Grimes met up with Christian Brothers Academy, the Cobras having dominated their first meeting by a 68-39 margin back on Jan. 11.
Three weeks later, the Brothers nearly got even, outscoring Grimes 22-10 in the third quarter to seize a 44-39 lead as Nick Valenti (18 points), Sam Haas (15 points) and Dan Anderson (12 points) would pace CBA.
Grimes had the last push, though, reclaiming the lead in the fourth quarter and hanging on to win 59-55, largely because it had a bit more scoring depth.
T.J. Bradford had 16 points, with David Mo adding 13 points and Nate Gay getting 10 points. Just as important, though, was Gop Arop and Naiche Cook contributing six points apiece.
Having lost at the start of the week to Bishop Grimes, Grimes was able to recover two nights later by going to Marcellus and beating the Mustangs 69-51, outscoring them 40-28 over the course of the second and third quarters.
Bradford got 22 points, with Mo contributing 18 points. Arop finished with nine points and Gay had six points.
Grimes would face St. Francis (Buffalo) on Sunday and win 63-49, overcoming a sluggish first half and, trailing 22-16, taking over in the third quarter, and then pulling away late. Bradford and Mo each hit 10 free throws as Bradford got 20 points and Mo had 19 points, with Gay contributing 13 points.
Then Grimes has a rematch Tuesday with Bishop Ludden and a Friday trip to Syracuse Academy of Science. Meanwhile, CBA hosts Ludden in another “Holy War” Friday after playing SAS earlier in the week.