Saturday, March 17, 2012
It turned out to be one bummer of a Friday for basketball fans from Olean.
The Olean boys basketball team gathered in its hotel to watch St. Bonaventure's ill-fated upset bid in the NCAA Tournament in the afternoon, then had its season end in the Class B state semifinals of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in the evening.
The Huskies, ranked first in The News small school poll all season long with a lineup of precocious underclassmen, were hurt by foul trouble and were ultimately overmatched against Syracuse's Bishop Ludden, which ran away from the Huskies in the second half for a 60-44 victory at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
"You never want to see a season end," said Olean coach Jeff Anastasia, who saw his team's win streak end at 21 games. "My assistant coach said, 'Sometimes I have speeches ready, but I didn't think it was going to end tonight.'"
Six-foot-seven Sam Eckstrom, one of four sophomore starters for the Huskies, picked up his fourth foul with 2:59 left in the third quarter, which helped Ludden pull away. It took a 37-33 lead after three quarters and finished with a 23-11 fourth.
"It really changed the complexion of the game," said Anastasia. "Once he went to the bench, it was very early in the third, and offensively we struggled. Defensively, we went into a zone because we were in foul trouble, and we haven't played much zone all year."
Bishop Ludden (21-2), a private school from Syracuse which won Section III, will play Watervliet (23-1) of Section II (Albany area) in tonight's 9 p.m. final.
Eckstrom, Olean's leading scorer at 15.7 points per game, finished with seven points. Sophomore Nick Schmidt, son of St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt, had 14 points to lead Olean (22-2). Sophomore forward Wil Bathurst had eight points, sophomore point guard Luke Hennessey had seven.
Ludden had some excellent underclassmen of its own in 6-5 sophomore Daniel Kaigler (18 points, 12 rebounds) and 6-2 sophomore Ben Hackett (18 points, three steals). Kaigler operated very smoothly in the lane — especially when Eckstrom was on the bench.
After a close game, Ludden pulled away when Eckstrom went out in the third, with a three-pointer by junior starter Patrick Scholla cutting the Ludden lead to 37-33 heading to the fourth. The Gaelic Knights then began the fourth with a 10-0 run that lasted more than half the quarter. Olean's first point in the fourth came on a Schmidt free throw with 3:54 left.