BY MICHAEL KELLY
TROY — Minutes into the second quarter of its Section II Class AA boys’ quarterfinal against Niskayuna, Green Tech had a 22-point lead.
With 20.7 seconds to go, that lead was down to two points after a 3-pointer from Niskayuna senior guard Tommy Kelly.
“We knew they were going to make a strong run,” Green Tech head coach Jamil Hood Sr. said.
But Green Tech survived Feb. 20 with a 73-67 victory, as senior forward Dasier Lukes scored a game-high 29 points to help the Eagles advance to the semifinals. Joining Green Tech (No. 3, 17-4) in that round of games Feb. 25 at the Glens Falls Civic Center will be Shenendehowa (No. 1, 21-0), Guilderland (No. 2, 17-4), and CBA (No. 4, 16-6).
Niskayuna (No. 6, 13-9) almost crashed that party. After a dreadful first quarter that saw the Silver Warriors shoot 2-for-8 from the field, 3-for-9 from the foul line and have nine turnovers, Niskayuna found life in a second quarter in which senior guard Andrew Evans, who scored a team-high 26 points, went 8-for-8 from the foul line.
“We adjusted to the speed of the game and started to break their pressure,” Evans said.
That adjustment was enough to keep Niskayuna in striking range after it looked early like the Silver Warriors would take a lopsided loss. Niskayuna trailed 39-25 at halftime and 52-37 after three quarters.
A couple minutes into the fourth quarter, Niskayuna began its charge. Down 62-48 midway through the period, Evans made a basket and Kelly followed with a quick six points.
“The fourth quarter, he did exactly what he’s supposed to do: step up,” Hood said of Kelly, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the final quarter.
The late 3-pointer from Kelly capped a 19-7 run for Niskayuna, which trailed 69-67 after the trey. From there, though, Lukes made a pair of free throws and a basket in the final seconds as Niskayuna’s surge ran out of time.
“We gave it our best shot,” Kelly said. “We just came up short.”
While Lukes was unhappy with his team’s finish to the game, he was already moved on mentally to a rematch from last year’s semifinals with Guilderland, which the Dutchmen won.
“It’s a blessing,” Lukes said of the chance to earn some revenge while playing for a berth in the title game. “Not too many people get a second chance at something they want so bad.”
Meanwhile, Niskayuna’s season came to a close at Hudson Valley Community College, For a team with 11 seniors, the loss made for a bittersweet ending to the most successul Niskayuna season in nearly a decade.
“It was a special year for us,” Evans said. “I’m grateful I got to play with the teammates I’ve been playing with since I was in third grade. We’re proud of the things we did.”
Evans 7-11-26, Kelly 6-5-19, Detrick 5-2-12, Byrne 3-2-9, Funyak 0-1-1. Total: 21-21-67.
Lukes 11-5-29, Miller 5-3-13, Friend 4-0-9, Rowland 1-3-6, Davis 1-4-6, Ford 0-4-4, Johnson 1-0-2, Lind 1-0-2, Murphy 1-0-2. Total: 25-19-73
Niskayuna 7 18 12 30 — 67
Green Tech 23 16 13 21 — 73
Three-point goals: Kelly 2, Byrne, Evans, Lukes 2, Friend, Rowland.