GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- Like a car on a cold winter's morning -- it was 21 degrees yesterday, with snow covering cars and rooftops for miles around -- Amityville just couldn't get started in the state boys basketball tournament.
"They beat us up in the first quarter," Amityville coach Jack Agostino said.
Burke Catholic accelerated quickly, scoring the game's first nine points, maintained stability and traction against Amityville's ball pressure, and played most of the fourth quarter on cruise control in a 68-50 victory over the Warriors in the Class A semifinal at Glens Falls Civic Center.
"We're a better team than we showed, but give credit where it's due," Agostino said. "They were well-coached and their point guard was great. It's hard to come back against a team like that."
Burke Catholic (18-4), from Orange County, got 18 points and six assists from point guard Jack Dwyer, including two slick layups during a tone-setting first quarter in which Burke Catholic built a 16-4 lead before Amityville could locate the keys to the ignition.
The Warriors (21-3) saw their 17-game winning streak careen to a halt because they shot poorly (36.3 percent overall and even worse -- 4-for-19 -- from downtown) and were unable to spring their vaunted trap against the crafty Eagles. Mike Coffey came off the bench to score 21 points for Burke, shooting an impressive 8-for-11 from the field.
Dwyer's steering was especially precise against the usually treacherous Amityville defense, which was never able to create enough turnovers to trigger a huge scoring run. The Warriors did go on a 10-2 burst midway through the third quarter to move to within 39-32. But Stan Buczek (eight points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) took a neat pass from Dwyer to spark a 6-0 response.
Amityville had a chance to reduce its deficit to nine just before the end of the third quarter, but Andy Laurent (11 points) missed an open layup and Coffey converted a long outlet pass with 1.1 seconds left for a 47-34 margin.
"That was a pivotal play," Agostino said of the four-point turnaround. "We miss a layup, they get a layup."
The Warriors, cheered on by a small but vocal cadre of school administrators, players' family members and fans from the community, had one more run in them. Kavione Green (10 points, nine rebounds, three steals) began the fourth quarter with a three-point play and Mike Smith sank a three-pointer from downtown to make it 47-40.
But Dwyer twice drew fouls as Amityville was forced to press, and he made three of the four free throws for a 10-point lead. After Travis Dickerson's jumper, Dwyer fed Coffey on the baseline for a layup and penetrated for two additional baskets that made it 59-43 with 3:27 left.
From there, it was a leisurely drive home for Burke Catholic and a long bus ride back to Long Island for Amityville.
"I'm sad now, but in a couple of days, we'll look back on this and we'll be pleased with the season," said 6-9 senior center Zack Tannis, who blocked six shots in his final game. "I felt I stepped up, but it wasn't enough."
Agostino called Tannis "our most improved player. He's only played organized basketball for two years. He showed heart and a defensive presence. I love this team; I love my seniors. They laid it on the line all year."