GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Glens Falls boys basketball team, an eight-seed in the Sec. II, Class B tournament, watched as top-seeded Tamarac celebrated a trip to the semifinals after the Bengals handed them a crushing, 79-38 loss at Hudson Valley Community College.
Fast forward to Wednesday night at Cool Insuring Arena, and a vastly improved Rob Girard squad would have its’ revenge. Glens Falls, owners of the three-seed in this year’s sectional bracket, knocked off two-seeded Tamarac, the No. 3 team in the state, 69-67 in the semifinal round to advance to the Class B championship game.
Glens Falls was backed by a 26-point double-double from sophomore Kellen Driscoll, and managed to outlast a brilliant, 32-point effort from Tamarac senior guard Joey Poulin.
It was an uphill battle for Glens Falls most of the evening. The Bengals came out as the aggressor, vaulting to an 11-4 lead after senior guard Mikey D’Agostino poured in a three-pointer from the left wing at the 5:39 mark of the opening frame.
But Glens Falls remained unfazed, countering with a 9-2 run to tie the game up at 13. The scoring burst was capped by a Driscoll fast-break lay-up after he intercepted a pass from D’Agostino.
Tamarac used a two-point bucket, though, from senior James Blake II in the waning seconds of the quarter to take a 15-13 edge into the second frame. That’s when the “Joey Poulin Show” broke out.
The star guard, who’s averaged nearly 25 points per game this season, went off for 15 points in the second quarter alone, leading the Bengals to a 35-29 advantage at halftime.
But Glens Falls refused to quit in the second half. After sophomore guard Oscar Lilac scored a breakaway lay-up to tie the game at 40, Glens Falls came right back down the floor; Driscoll assisted senior Alex Cygan on yet another run-out, and Glens Falls had its’ first lead of the game at 42-40 with 3:09 to play in the third quarter.
After Tamarac tied the game back up at 42, Lilac rattled off back-to-back trey balls, giving Glens Falls a six-point edge at the 2:11 mark that it would not relinquish the rest of the game.
Glens Falls finished the third quarter having outscored the Bengals 24-12. Tamarac managed to whittle it’s fourth-quarter deficit down to three points with 3:12 left on the game clock. But 31 seconds later, Glens Falls senior Peyton McClenning poured in a corner triple to double the margin, and the hole became too large for the Bengals to climb out of.
Glens Falls managed to salt the game away at the free-throw line; Poulin knocked down a three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining, but it was not enough, as Glens Falls secured the 69-67 win, moving on to Saturday’s championship game.
Driscoll racked up 10 rebounds to go along with his 26 points. Lilac, Cygan, and junior Cooper Nadler all joined him in double figures in scoring with 13, 10, and 11, respectively.
Poulin managed remarkable efficiency in his 32-point outing. He shot 13-24 from the floor, and connected on four of his eight three-point tries. He added a team-high nine rebounds as well.
Glens Falls will now prepare for top-seeded Catholic Central. The Crusaders advanced to the section title game with a 59-45 win over Fonda-Fultonville. Saturday’s title bout is slated for a 1:45 p.m. start from Cool Insuring Arena. Originally scheduled for a 12:45 tip, the game was pushed back an hour because of an impending winter storm.
Wednesday’s loss closed the book on another remarkable campaign for the Bengals. They finish the year 20-3, posted an undefeated, 13-0 mark in league play, and the only two regular-season losses they suffered came against Class AA’s Ballston Spa, and Union-Endicott, a Class A squad from Sec. IV.