TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nobody ever said winning basketball games in late February was easy. The Christian Brothers Academy and Saratoga Springs basketball teams each drew double-digit seeds in Sunday’s quarterfinal round of the Sec. II, Class AA playoff tournament, but both squads had to overcome fourth-quarter deficits to secure victories, and advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

Saratoga, the three-seed in the tournament, squared off against 11th-seeded Shenendehowa in game two of the four-game quarterfinal slate at Hudson Valley Community College. CBA followed in game three against 10th-seeded AA newcomer Mekeel Christian Academy.

The Blue Streaks played a nearly textbook version of a “back-and-forth” game with the Plainsmen. Neither team led by more than five points at any time until the final seconds of the fourth quarter; Saratoga managed to outlast Shen at the free throw line, and pull out a 69-66 win.

One of the game’s biggest swings came at the end of the third quarter. After Saratoga’s Andrew Masten scored a lay-up with :44 remaining to give the Blue Streaks a 53-50 lead, Shen’s Grady Ceccucci drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer to tie the game at 53.

That fueled an 8-0 Plainsmen run, which was capped off by an Anthony Kaloudis trey ball, and Shen owned a 58-53 advantage with 5:59 remaining in the game.

Saratoga took the lead back, though, 1:48 later when Masten connected on a pair of free throws to reclaim the Blue Streaks a 59-58 edge.

The lead changed hands once again moments later after Ceccucci converted a contested lay-up; junior Luke McAuliffe added to that Shen’s next trip down the floor with an old-fashioned, three-point play, and the Plainsmen were up 63-59 with 3:12 to play.

But the Blue Streaks once more managed to get the deficit within one possession, and at the 1:47 mark, senior Hutton Snyder delivered a three-pointer that gave Saratoga a lead it would not relinquish.

The Blue Streaks closed the game on a 10-0 run before Shen’s Joseph Sweeney banked in a desperation three-pointer at the final horn, but it was not enough, as Saratoga punched its’ ticket to the semifinals with the 69-66 win.

Saratoga Junior guard Ryan Farr led his team with 20 points, and junior Andrew Stallmer contributed 15. Snyder finished in double figures as well with 13. Ceccucci netted 26 for the Plainsmen in a valiant effort to lead all scorers.

The Blue Streaks then set their sights on the winner between CBA and Mekeel Christian. The Lions had an impressive Class AA postseason debut, winning on the road against No. 7 Shaker in the opening round of the tournament. MCA had the Brothers on the ropes Sunday night, but could not knock them off, as CBA notched a 57-49 win.

The Brothers trailed by nine points with just four seconds remaining in the first half – the largest margin of the game for either team – after Lions freshman guard Terrence Robinson scored a lay-up on a back-door cut to make the score 28-19.

However, CBA junior guard Kaelan Leak was fouled on a long, three-point heave as time expired. He knocked down all three free throws, narrowing the deficit to six points as the Brothers headed for the locker room.

They whittled it down to two points – 39-37 – by the conclusion of the third quarter, and catapulted the Lions 2:12 into the final stanza when eighth grader JJ Osinski converted a three-point play to give CBA a 41-39 edge.

Then, with 2:21 left on the game clock, and CBA clinging still to a two-point lead, he poured in a three-pointer from the left wing, putting the Brothers ahead by two possessions. They’d hang on from there for the 57-49 victory.

Osinski recorded 11 of his team-high 16 points in the final stanza. Leak and junior Matt Sgambati joined him in double figures with 14 and 13, respectively. The Lions were led on offense by sophomore center Isiah Rose, who recorded 21 points. Robinson finished with 13, and freshman guard Nykim Taylor added 12.

CBA and Saratoga Springs will now prepare for a 5:00 p.m. semifinal bout at Cool Insuring Arena Thursday. The Brothers reached the semifinals last season, knocking off the surprise of the tournament, 10th-seeded La Salle, before falling in the sectional championship game to Green Tech. The Blue Streaks’ run to the semis is an impressive run considering they were sent home in the first round last year by Bethlehem.

Shen wraps up the season at 8-13. MCA’s final record stands at 15-6.