Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Maple Hill boys vs. Blind Brook, Class C preview

Maple Hill senior Chris Despart speaks with Scott Morlock of Fox23 News during the Wildcats' Final Four Media Day festivities Tuesday in the Maple Hill High gym. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Monday evening, Rensselaer High head coach Dom Pitaniello called The Record's office to report the score of the annual Patroon Conference vs. Wasaren League Exceptional Seniors game, which was held this year at Rensselaer's new gym.

The Wasaren League team won, 71-66, but the most notable thing about the boxscore was the absence of the five Maple Hill starters, who were resting up after winning two games in two days in the Class C regional round in Potsdam.

"I bet you missed those Maple Hill guys," I asked.

"Oh, no! They were here, cheering us on," Pitaniello replied.

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I caught some of the Maple Hill players during their Media Day festivities Tuesday at the high school. Maple Hill senior point guard thought it was fun sharing his experiences with the Rensselaer High and Ichabod Crane players he had come to know through games at the Rensselaer Boys & Girls Club and CYO games against the crew from Valatie in his younger days.

"They were there congratulating us, asking how the trip was and who we play next," Prinzo said. "I don't really know that much about them yet, though."

Next up for Maple Hill (23-1) is Section I champion Blind Brook (16-7).

To see Blind Brook's roster - with a link to player stats - click here.

Maple Hill head coach Scott Hanrahan said he sees of lot of the Wildcats in what he's learned about Blind Brook so far. Neither team has one go-to scorer, instead relying on someone to step up in each game. Both teams have three starters that average double figures are two that aren't far behind (see the lineups below).

Maple Hill's Jake Jasiewicz, however, has really turned on the jets down the stretch for Maple Hill. He has recorded double-digit points in five of Maple Hill's last nine games.

For more on how Jasiewicz and Prinzo, key reserves a season ago, blossomed into starters, check back in The Record later this week.

The Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the second straight year, but it's also been a wonderful stretch of 36 months or so for the Maple Hill athletic department in general. The soccer programs have been fantastic for a long time - girls star Ashley Cross recently committed to the University of Hartford, becoming just the second Division I player from Maple Hill in school history - and the baseball team won a state title last June.

So how has this little town in the Southern part of Rensselaer County become a powerhouse on the New York State-level?

"I think it all starts with CYO basketball," Prinzo said. "In little league we played with East Greenbush, so we got experience with the bigger schools when we were all younger."

"Everybody has a chance to be an athlete here because we do have those programs," Jasiewicz added. "Even though we don't have as many kids as a Shen or a Columbia or any of those schools, we just focus on it and AAU helps."

MATCHUP: Maple Hill (23-1) faces Section I champion Blind Brook (16-7) in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
TICKETS: $10, available at the door, at www.glensfallscc.com or calling the Civic Center box office, 518-798-0202.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
MAPLE HILL WILDCATS
No., Name, Pos., Yr., Hgt., Ppg.
3, Dominic Prinzo, PG, Sr., 5-9, 8.6
30, Chris Despart, SG, Sr., 6-0, 12.8
44, David Briggs, G/F, Sr., 6-2, 11.0
42, Jake Jasiewicz, F, Sr., 6-0, 7.6
55, Sean Danaher, C, Sr., 6-5, 13.4
BLIND BROOK TROJANS
No., Name, Pos., Yr., Hgt., Ppg.
23, Mike Tomasula, PG, Sr., 5-10, 8.0
30, Brent Lavitt, G, Jr., 6-2, 10.1
10, Troy Dubrowsky, G, Sr., 5-11, 6.4
32, Antoine Saliba, F, Soph., 6-3, 10.2
44, Lance Freundlich, F, Sr., 6-1, 12.1

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Friday, March 19
New York State semifinal games at Glens Falls Civic Center
(Tickets are $10)
Class D
Germantown vs. John A. Coleman, 10 a.m.
Maple Grove vs. New York Mills, 11:45 a.m.
Class C
Maple Hill vs. Blind Brook, 1:30 p.m.
Buffalo Middle College vs. Moravia, 5 p.m.

Saturday, March 20
New York State championship games at Glens Falls Civic Center
Class D, 5:30 p.m.
Class C, 7:15 p.m.

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Remember to drop by the blog Thursday night at 6 p.m. for a discussion on the six remaining local teams in the New York State Final Four round.

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