GLENS FALLS — The drums of Green Tech echoed throughout the Glens Falls Civic Center all weekend. The charter school from Albany brought its deep roster, fervent fan base, and its band to the state public school final four, and when things were going well, the Green Tech drums were booming.
Green Tech also had as forceful and persistent a drumbeat on the court — its defense.
The deeper, longer, quicker Eagles of Green Tech wore down Jamestown and ended the Red Raiders’ postseason with a 54-49 victory in Sunday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship game.
An estimated 2,500, including hundreds from Green Tech which was playing just its fourth varsity season, watched Jamestown repeatedly dig itself out of deficits as it played its second state championship game in school history.
Jamestown (20-4) fell behind by 11 in the second quarter and cut the deficit to six at half. It fell behind by 10 in the third but closed with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 37-37 heading to the fourth.
And while defense drove Green Tech to an 8-0 run to start the fourth, Jamestown made it a one-possession game twice in the final minute. However, the Eagles hit their free throws – and made one final steal – to close it out.
“They just played good defense,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said. “That was probably the best defense overall that we have faced all year. They had hands everywhere, and really didn’t give us a lot of free looks.”
Junior guard Zack Panebianco fought off excellent man-to-man defense to lead Jamestown again with 20 points. He went 7 of 20 from the field and 3 of 12 from three-point range.
“They were really quick and fast,” said the 5-foot-10 guard who scored 34 points in Jamestown’s regional win and had 31 in Saturday’s semifinal victory. “I think every single one of them were quick and long, which benefited them defensively and offensively. Give a lot of credit to our guys. We played tough, we just couldn’t come out with it at the end.”
Six-foot-5 senior forward Quinn Lee Yaw of Jamestown had 11 points and 14 rebounds as he battled several big bodies inside, including 6-5 senior Ramion Burt (15 points, eight rebounds) and 6-4 junior Anquan McLean (eight). Lee Yaw’s four fouls through three quarters kept him on the bench for the beginning of the fourth in what turned out to be a key opening stretch for the Eagles.
“They were quick, and they were really long inside,” Drake said. “Even when we got the ball inside, there were no easy ones.”
Jamil Hood Jr., the son of Tech’s head coach, earned MVP honors as he had 18 points, a 10-of-12 performance at the line which included a clutch 5-of-6 run in the final minute, and was part of the Eagles’ defensive effort.
“We have an amazing coaching staff, and they gave us the scouting report – No. 11 and No. 32 were their best players, and basically they said they can win the game for them,” said Hood, referring to Panebianco and Lee Yaw. “We weren’t losing. We had to come out winners and do what we had to do and shut them down. They made their runs, it happens to the best of us, but we just had to come out winners.”
Green Tech will represent the NYSPHSAA in next weekend’s Federation Tournament of Champions in Albany, where it will take on the champions of the state’s independent association (Long Island Lutheran) in one semifinal while New York City Public Schools Athletic League winner Cardozo will face state Catholic champion Christ The King.
Once Jamestown tied the game heading to the fourth, Green Tech used two steals and stifling man-to-man defense to gain a 45-37 lead. The score stayed that way until Jamestown scored its first points of the period with just over two minutes to play. Two Panebianco transition baskets cut the lead to 45-41 with 1:05 left.
Panebianco and junior Ben Larson both hit threes in the final minute to make it a one-possession game, but Green Tech responded by making free throws. Panebianco’s three brought Jamestown to within 51-49 with 11.7 seconds left, but Isiah Dobere, in his first trip to the line all game, went 2 for 2 for a 53-49 lead.
As Panebianco came upcourt, Hood knocked the ball away from behind and was fouled with 2.2 seconds left, leading to the start of a Green Tech celebration, drums and all.
“It was just another case of the mental toughness that we demonstrated — we didn’t get rattled, we didn’t get down even when we got off to a tough start,” Drake said. “We had a chance, right at the end. It was a great run. I’m just so proud of these guys and how far we came this year.”