High school notes: Big 10 foes shouldn't overlook Patriots
It’s been some time since Schenectady was a major player in the Big 10 boys’ basketball championship race, and even longer since the Patriots won it.
“Schenectady had that fantastic stretch,” fourth-year coach Eric Loudis said of the six league titles the Patriots claimed in an eight-season run through 2005. “Times change and we’ve been going through a cycle here, but hopefully, this is the start of us getting back there. Hopefully, we can make that happen again.”
Loudis’ objective this season is to win more games than last winter and maybe pull off a few surprises along the way. At the same time, he’ll be molding a young though talented cast that includes eighth-grader Tobias Holmes and sophomore Brandon Langston.
“We’re young,” said Loudis. “This year, there might be some growing pains, but I like our younger guys.”
Loudis has four returning seniors in Keishaun Wheelings, Shani Moses, Randall Symes and Andrew Cyr, and another 12th-grader in Ballston Spa transfer Doron Tucker. Todd Spottswood, a 6-foot-7 junior, and 11th-grader Keenan Chandler are among the other newcomers.
“We’re trying to get plays down. We’re working on a lot of things,” said Loudis, who has a roster of 14. “We need to build off each day and retain things to be successful.”
Schenectady went 9-7 in the Big 10 last season and 9-10 overall after a 65-55 loss to Guilderland in the first round of the Section II Class AA tournament. Scoring was a problem for the Patriots, who were limited to 55 points or less nine times.
“I love defense, but if we hold a team to one point and we don’t score, we lose the game,” said Loudis. “We’ve got to score to win games.”
Darius Macon, a third-team Gazette All-Area selection, led Schenectady with a 12.2 scoring average last season while serving as its best interior defender.
“We need to fill the void on offense and defense with Macon gone,” said Loudis. “We need guys to step up.”
Loudis said Holmes was a big scorer on Schenectady’s modified team last season, while Wheeling, Symes and Moses each had a few productive outings.
“He can shoot,” Loudis said of the 6-foot, 185-pound Holmes. “I think he’s the best shooter we’ve had since Anthony Richardson in my first year.”
Loudis said Holmes has great potential.
“I’m challenging him to work hard, which is something he’s not used to. He’s never had to overexert himself to stand out,” Loudis said. “This is a new level for him, and he’s learning the game and making mistakes. With time, once he gets adjusted, the sky’s the limit.”
Schenectady will make its debut Tuesday night at Christian Brothers Academy, the reigning Big 10 champ which features two of the league’s top players in Greig Stire and Nick Marini.
Making an impact
Trevon Perez-Tucker gave the Schalmont football team an immediate lift when he returned the opening kickoff 56 yards in last Saturday’s state Class B semifinal game against Marlboro at Dietz Stadium.
Perez-Tucker landed at the Marlboro 39, and the Mohonasen transfer scored on a 14-yard run four plays into the game which the Sabres won, 66-0.
“I love special teams,” said Perez-Tucker. “Getting that kickoff return and then scoring, it felt real good. It set us up.”
Perez-Tucker has been an impact player for the Sabres as a return man, running back and linebacker. His interception late in the first half swung momentum toward the Sabres in a 35-8 Section II semifinal win over Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk.
“He’s like my little brother,” said Schalmont senior Devon Willis. “We’ve played together for so long and have been through a lot of things. I’m so happy he got an opportunity to play here. He’s got speed and athleticism, and when he does something, it puts a smile on my face.”
Perez-Tucker has five interceptions and is among the Sabres’ leading tacklers with 47 in the nine games he’s played. His best offensive game came in a 61-0 win over Johnstown, when he ran for 107 yards and scored three of his nine touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on the team,” said Perez-Tucker. “I’m just trying to hep out the best I can.”
“He’s done a great job for us,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple.
Schalmont’s 66 points against Marlboro in last Saturday’s state semifinal were the second-highest total in the history of the state football tournament that began in 1988.
Iroquois piled up 67 points for the tournament record in 2004, in a 67-48 Class A quarterfinal win over Eastridge. Andy Wolfe scored seven touchdowns for Iroquois.
Schalmont amassed 60 first-half points against Marlboro. Dom Friello and Willis brought back interceptions for touchdowns soon after Perez-Tucker’s big return and score. Hunter Gac ran for a touchdown and blocked a punt and returned it for another. Nick Gallo followed with three touchdown runs and passed to Kyle Strube for a TD to finish off the first-half blitz.
Schalmont is the only team to reach 60 points twice in state tournament play after beating Beekmantown, 60-6, before the Marlboro game.
New York State Tournament
Most Points (one team)
Iroquois def. Eastridge, 67-48 (2004 Class A quarterfinal).
Schalmont def. Marlboro, 66-0, (2013 Class B semifinal).
Walton def. Ticonderoga, 64-6 (2007 Class D championship).
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake def. Franklin Academy, 63-20 (2011 Class A quarterfinal).
Edgemont def. Sullivan West, 62-15 (2000 Class C quarterfinal).
Watervliet def. Saranac Lake, 61-6 (1991 Class C regional).
Randolph def. Groton, 61-8 (2009 Class D semifinal).
Schalmont def. Beekmantown, 60-6. (2013 Class B quarterfinal).
Queensbury def. Watertown, 60-35 (1998 Class A quarterfinal).
Voorheesville senior setter Libby Bjork and Johnstown junior outside hitter Anne Stock are repeat all-state first-team volleyball selections.
Bjork was named to the Class C first team for the fourth time after leading the Blackbird to the state semifinals. Stock was named to the Class B first team for the second time, and is joined by Lady Bills senior middle blocker Brianna O’Rourke. Johnstown finished as the state runner-up.
State Class A runner-up Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has a pair of first-team selections in senior outside hitter Kathleen Schurman and junior setter/outside hitter Jessica Dillon. Junior outside hitter/middle blocker Carly Hower of state Class D semifinalist Waterford-Halfmoon also earned first-team honors.
Section II’s other all-state players are junior setter Hayleyn Macken of Shenendehowa (Class AA, third), sophomore outside hitter Natalie Schurman of Burnt Hills (Class A, second), sophomore middle blocker Caroline Bablin of Voorheesville (Class C, second), and senior setter/middle blocker Miranda Eagan of Mayfield (Class D, fourth).