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Girmindl's Ghost

A diary of Shaker High School's 2005-2006 basketball season, a retelling of Shaker's fabled 1979-1980 season, and general commentary on high school hoops, updated daily...

"I like sitting in the back row. I found that sitting against the wall is just easier on your back." -Dean Smith, on the comfort of the H-gym bleachers

Sectional recap, Quarterfinals

Sectional Recap, Quaterfinals:

Executive Summary: Albany 64, Shaker 62 (OT). Anyone who was at this game will not soon forget it. It had everything, good and bad. There was great play, there was sloppy play. The Bison scored at will and took a huge lead. The Bison couldn't hit the ocean and fell way behind. Brad scored his 1,000th point. Hans got knocked out of the game on a cheap elbow. It was just that kind of game. At multiple points, it seemed that each team was dead in the water: the Bison were down 53-48 with 1:30 to go, ahead 54-53 with 20 seconds to go, down 56-54 with 10 seconds to go, and up 62-60 with the ball at 25 seconds left in overtime. In each case, one of the teams made a great play. Albany just made the last one. All this said, I'm still in shock. They had this game won, twice. And yet they didn't win. And now it's over. Final score: Albany 64, Shaker 62 (OT). TU box score here (it's wrong). Shaker finishes the season 17-5.

Full Report, Ask me about it in 20 years: I arrived at the RACC in time to watch much of the Maginn-CCHS game, which turned out to be a blowout. I brought along a nice contingent: SJC and my mom are with me, and SJC's parents will be meeting us here shortly. Other pregame notes:

1) The RACC is great: As I mentioned last week, the RACC is a great place to have the quarterfinals. It's just a great basketball atmosphere: the student sections can sit in bleachers behind the hoops that are really close to the court, there are comfortable chair-back seats at teh center courts, and the place can get pretty loud. Probably the main downside is the parking situation at SUNY - you have to walk like half a mile, and boy was it cold yesterday.

2) Early game results: Schenectady beat Nisky by 3, CBA beat Columbia by 13, and Maginn blew out CCHS. So the Bison are the only hope left for the Suburban Council.

3) Enormous 6th man: The 6th man has wisely chosen to stand in the bleachers behind the basket. Smart move. They are really close to the court. And there are a ton of them. And they are really loud. You can hear them throughout the RACC, just great student fan support. Albany has no equivalent organized student section. Neither did Maginn or CCHS. Only Shaker seems to have a playoff-quality student cheering section today.

4) Warmups: No one is under any illusions about how this game is going to go. Shaker has a more offensively disciplined team, and Brad is the best player on the court. Albany has a higher level of athleticism and will almost certainly try to pressure Shaker into turnovers. Both teams look pretty crisp in warmups, and everyone seems excited. Let's get it on!

1st Quarter

Shaker won the tip, but immediately tuned it over for an Albany layup. Albany then stole the inboudns for another layup. Oh, no. Not tonight, fellas. Hans answered with a three pointer, and Brad got a foul shot and a hoop. 6-4 Shaker. That's better. The teams traded misses, Albany hit a three, Duclos made a driving hoop, Brad hit again, and Eddie made a shot. 12-9 Shaker. Albany made another 3, Duclos made another layup, and then Albany got a basket right at the buzzer on a putback. Ughh. 14-14 at the quarter.

1st quarter notes:

1) Rough, rough game: Albany had four fouls in the first and Shaker two. It could easily have been triple that for both teams. The refs are really letting things go, at both ends. But it definitely helps Albany, since they play the pressure style defense. Griff got clobbered in the lane twice in the first quarter, and no calls. The kind of plays that just simply can't be clean blocks - two or three defenders get him with the body as he went up. That spells trouble. There were also some questionable plays by Albany in the first: Brad was tripped up coming down the court in what looked like an intentional shove to me by an Albany player. He complained to the ref, but there wasn't a call.

2) Turnovers: If Shaker can get the ball in the halfcourt set, they are the better team. They spotted Albany 4 points to start the game and a cheap one at the end. Otherwise, Albany had just two threes and 1 hoop in their halfcourt set. The Bison look pretty good, but not great, in the halfcourt. But they are giving away a lot of turnovers to the pressure.

3) Huge 6th man: The 6th man is really loud, and they are visibly annoying the Albany players on the court. At one point, Albany was on the foul line (missed both) and one of their rebounders was jawing with the 6th man - that can't be good for keeping your head in the game. The 6th man also got into it with the Albany mascot, which was fun.

4) Duclos shoe: Duclos lost his shoe on the second Albany steal and basket of the game, and that was the moment I really thought they were in big trouble: they had turned it over twice, they were down 4-0, they hadn't take a shot yet, and Duclos was playing defense with one shoe. It was not a good sign. But to their credit, they weathered the storm quickly and got back into it.

2nd Quarter

The first 4 minutes of the second quarter was probably the best basketball I saw the Bison play all year. They went on a 13-3 run that almost blew Albany out of the gym. They were so close to ending this thing early, I can't tell you. Hans opened the quarter with a long three from the corner and was also fouled, for a 4-point play. Brad hit a shot jumper from the baseline and a post basket, Hans put down another three and then Hooks hit a two point jumper. All of a sudden, it was 27-17 and the Bison had the ball. Wow. They had a number of posessions up 10, but never got the extra 4 or 6 pont run that could really have buried Albany psychologically. Albany got two hoops in a row, Hooks hit another 3 to make it 30-22, but then Albany finished the quarter on a 6-2 run, and it was 32-28 Shaker at the half. I headed out to the concession for a Twix.

Second quarter notes:

1) John Hans came to play: Hans looks so confident from behind the three point line right now. I believe he's 3 for 3, or maybe 3 for 4. Doesn't matter, though, because if he's going to shoot like that in the second half, this game is over. Albany doesn't seem to have an answer for him. Hooks looks good, too.

2) Brad swatting everything: Brad had 4 or 5 blocks in the first half, and that was a huge problem for Albany. Much like Colonie, Albany relies on dribble penetration to get to the hoop and get baskets, but Brad has turned them away quite a few times. He probably has half a dozen phantom blocks in addition to the actual ones. Brad also got 2 or 3 of his first half baskets on that alley-oop play, which seemed to baffle Albany. He never jammed one, but it was good for three easy layups.

3) Griff momentarily out: Griff headed to the bench at one point with what looked like a groin pull. Not good. Luckily, he returned less than a minute later.

4) Could go either way: My father-in-law and I were in agreement on this much: if Shaker plays well in the 2nd half, they probably win. But Albany could certainly beat them by 5 points if they don't play well, so this is anybody's game.

Shaker's scoring looked like this at the break:

Brad 5 1 11
EC 1 0 2
TD 2 0 4
Hans 3 1 10 (3 threes)
Hooks 2 0 5 (1 three)

Total 13 2 32 (4 three pointers)

3rd Quarter

A total disaster. Well, almost a total disaster. Albany won the quarter 12-3. I guess it could have been a lot worse. Shaker simply couldn't break Albany's press. The Falcons switched to a diamond zone trap, and it really rattled the Bison. Albany kept the trap going in the halfcourt, so even when Shaker got the ball over the timeline, they faced a lot of pressure. Luckily, two things were happening at the other end. One, Albany wasn't making shots. Two, Brad was blocking or phantom blocking everything in sight. Albany ran off the first 10 points of the quarter to make it 38-32, but then with 1:50 left in the quarter Hans finally got Shaker in the scoring column with a three, and it was only a three point game. Albany added another buzzer beater basket to end the quarter 40-35, but overall i was relieved. They had really weathered a storm there, and to only be down five was extremely fortunate.

Third quarter notes:

1) Summed up the bad parts of the year: The third quarter was a good representation of Shaker's trouble throughout the year. The turnovers were just killer. They literally couldn't get the ball up the court at one point. Their pressbreaking just wasn't up to par. I think they should have used Brad more at mid-court. He's such a big target and he passes well. Instead, they kept trying to move the ball up by having the guards pass it back and forth. And when they did break the press, they didn't punish Albany by going to the hoop with it. Instead, they slowed it down and got into their offense.

2) Brad's touches: And even in their offense, they took a whole lot of jumpshots. Brad only got the ball in the psot once in the 3rd, I think. And he missed a post move that he usual makes. It was that kind of quarter.

4th Quarter

A quarter of basketball I'll never forget. Never. Shaker opened the quarter on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 40. Brad simply took over the game, scoring Shaker's first 10 points of the 4th. He was unstoppable. It really made you wish they had just gotten him the ball every time down the floor in the 3rd quarter. Turnaround jumpers, drop steps, post moves, the whole package. When Brad tied the game at 40, he also went over 1,000 points on the season. They stopped the game to recognize him. The teams traded baskets to make it 42-42 with about 5 minutes to play, and then Albany ran off 7 straight to make it 49-42. During that stretch, two things happened: first, Erwyn gave Hans a hard elbow to the face, knocking him out of the game with what looked like a concussion. It sure looked like a cheap shot to me, but I didn't have the best view. Unreal. Second, Albany had a breakaway layup opportunity and tried a "pass off the backboard for a dunk," which they missed. If there is any justice in the world, Shaker would win this game. What a bunch of thugs and showboats Albany is. Brad answered with a basket and a foul shot, but Albany got a hoop and a foul shot too, and it was 51-45 with under 3 to play. Eddie hit a 3 from the corner to make it 51-48, but Albany got an easy basket to make it 53-48.

There was only a 1:20 to play, Hans was sitting on the end of the bench slumped over. And Albany had the ball. It did not look good. Shaker got a stop and Eddie got to the line for a 1-and-1 and calmly made both shots. 53-50, less than a minute to go. I thought Shaker might start fouling, but they just went to a press. At the other end of the court, Vernon got a great steal and got it to Hooks, who drove to the hoop and dished to Schaller for a layup. Yessssssss! I've never seen someone so nervous to take an open layup. But Schaller hit it, and the entire crowd was now on its feet. 40 seconds to go. Albany inbounded and got near halfcourt, but again Vernon got a steal and broke for the hoop. He made an amazing layup and easily could have got a foul call too, but holy shit the Bison are winning! Holy shit! It was truly the most improbable moment. Down 5 just 40 seconds earlier, the Bison had taken the lead without Albany ever getting a shot off. Oh my lord, they're going to win this game!!!!!!!!!!! Albany, to their credit, did not panic. They took a timeout and brought the ball down the court with about 25 seconds to play. I thought Shaker should use a couple of fouls (Albany wasn't in the bonus) whenever Albnay drove, but the Bison chose to stay home and play tough. Jamil Jordan then calmly drained a three pointer from the wing. Ughh. Great shot under pressure. 56-54 Albany, timeout Shaker. There were about 14 seconds to go. The Bison inbounded the ball, Albany pressing. They got it up the court and Schaller had it in the corner. He got it to Hooks at the wing who fired a pass into Brad in the post, and Brad hit an uncontested layup with 5 seconds to go. Yeaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The crowd went absolutely nuts. Albany got a timeout and actually got a good look at the hoop, but couldn't score. We're going to overtime.

4th quarter notes:

1) I can't believe it: I literally can't believe they are in this game. When they were down 53-48, I really thought the season was over. Just huge plays by Vernon. His steal and breakaway layup was probably the single most exciting moment of the season. It just was unbelieable that they had the lead.

2) The Hans sucker shot: I didn't have the best view of it, but it certainly looked like a cheap shot to me. Albany was coming down the court on offense, and Erwyn was late getting down the floor. He ran by Hans, put his elbow up, and all of sudden Hans was laying face down on the floor. Give me a break. That's thug basketball. Brad began arguing with the refs immediately after it happened, but to no avail. It really made it all the more dramatic that they came back. With Schaller at the point, you're not exactly going with experience. But Steve did a great job.

3) The backboard dunk: I would hate to coach Albany. They have so much talent on that team, but they do things sometimes that would just kill me as a coach. The breakaway layup that they pissed away trying to do an alley-oop jam was unreal. Maybe you excuse that in a regular season game up by 25, but in a playoff game that's tied? Give me a break. If Shaker had won, that would have been the play recurring in Albany's coach's nightmares all summer.

4) Brad on a mission : Brad simply would not be denied in the 4th quarter. He had 11 points and was simply a monster at both ends. I've seen him take over a game and carry Shaker on his back, but not like that. It was amazing.


Just a wild four minutes. And enough what-if's to last a few years, at least for me. Albany got the first basket, but Brad immediately tied it with a post-move. It really looks like Albany has given up trying to guard Brad, it's that ridiculous. He's just scoring at will. The teams traded misses and turnovers for a few minutes. Then Albany missed and Schaller was fouled brining it up, putting him on the line for a 1-and-1 with 2:10 to go. He missed the front. Uggggh. I think I'm going to have a heart attack. Albany scored, but then Brad answered immediately with a lay in off a nice move. 60-60. Then ALbany missed, and Vernon was fouled with 1:09 to go, putting him on the line for a 1-and-1. Please, Vernon. Just make the first one. Please. He missed. Albany brought the ball up and missed a shot with about 50 seconds. Shaker came down and Brad scored again, another post move. Unstoppable. 62-60 Shaker, 40 seconds to go. C'mon, just one stop and make some foul shots!!!!! C'mon!!!! And they got the stop! Even better, they got numbers on a break. They got the ball to Griff charging to the hoop, and he dished off to Vernon for a layup. Vernon was, in my view - delirious as it was - clobbered trying to put it in, but no call, but Schaller got the rebound!!!!! But wait, there's a foul called on Vernon for going over the back on the board. Ugghhhhh. Still, they're up 2 with 20 seconds to go. Albany brings to ball up, doesn't get much of a look and misses a jumper. But wait, they called a foul on Schaller on the shot. Geez, that was the game right there. Marquis King gets to the line, about 8 seconds to go. He calmly made both foul shots, and he deserves a ton of credit for that. Huge high pressures situation. Shaker inbounds all the way to halfcourt, and Vernon brings it up the right side quickly. For a moment, Brad looks open in the lane, but Vernon doesn't pass it. Then somehow, Albany gets a steal on the wing and flings the ball back the other way. It looks like they are going to get a breakaway layup, but the kid pulls up near the three point line, thinking time is expiring. He fires with about 2.2 seconds to go, and misses. But he follows his shot and gets a tip right at the buzzer. And it counts. 64-62 Albany. Game over.

I was literally stunned. I looked around, and it definitely wasn't how it was supposed to end. Brad was laying face down on the court near the three point line. Griff was sitting at midcourt with his head in his hands, and Hans was still on the end of the bench - I'm not sure he even saw or knew what happened, his head was still in his hands the way it had been for the last half-hour.

It was so errily similar to the Maginn game, I can't tell you - Shaker up two, less than 30 seconds to play, lose on a steal and a breakaway to a kid who scored his only 2 points on the last play of the game. Just a horrible way to lose. I can't even describe it right now.

And I'm not sure I'm going to even try, until tomorrow. It's worth it's own essay, and I'll give it to you then when I've had more time to think about. It was just over so quick. It was just over so quick.

Here is the partial boxscore. Note that it's wrong, because it doesn't have Vernon or Schaller's missed 1-and-1's:

NameFGFTFTAFT %3-PtPoints
Eddie Cross12367%17
Vernon Cross100--02
Tom Duclos200--04
Pat Fallon000--00
John Hans022100%414
Brian Hooks100--15
Steve Schaller100--02
Brad Sheehan1244100%028

And here is the quarter log:

Albany 141412168 64
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