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Brentwood falls in state Class AA championship game

Shenendehowa's Thomas Huerter, left, defends against Brentwood's Jamel

Shenendehowa's Thomas Huerter, left, defends against Brentwood's Jamel Allen (42) during the first half of the NYSPHSAA Class AA boys championship game on Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Glens Falls, N.Y. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - Suddenly, from the sadness sprang a song and a dance.

Brentwood's players walked off the court in tears with pained expressions on their long faces Sunday after losing in the state Class AA championship game. A half-hour later, senior guard Tavon Ginyard led the team in a version of "The Whip," performed by the Indians before every game. They chanted, they laughed, they embraced.

They were beaten, but they weren't crushed.

"After the game, everyone was crying, but we have nothing to hang our heads about," said Ginyard, the acknowledged ringleader of the choreographed routine. "The Whip, it gives us energy. We accomplished too much to end the season crying. I wanted us to end it having fun."

Ginyard transferred back to his hometown school from St. John the Baptist for his senior year. He scored 17 points, as did junior center Jamel Allen, but Brentwood fell to tall, talented and undefeated Shenendehowa, 76-63, at the Glens Falls Civic Center, which rocked throughout with roaring, supportive fans from both communities.

Shenendehowa (25-0), from the nearby suburb of Clifton Park, advanced to next weekend's state Federation championship game in Albany. Brentwood finished 24-2 in the most successful boys basketball season in school history.

The Indians won the League I, Suffolk Class AA, Suffolk overall and Long Island Class AA championships for the second season in a row and reached the state title game for the first time after five trips to Glens Falls that ended with semifinal losses.

"We are the first Brentwood team to make it to the finals. We had a great run," said junior guard Michael Almonacy, who had 15 points, four assists and two steals. But he shot 4-for-17, including 1-for-10 on three-pointers.

"It was their size," he said. "They were bigger and they were stronger."

Ginyard hit four of his five three-pointers in the first half, when Brentwood -- which played without foul-troubled Ali Mableton (12 points) for the entire second quarter -- overcame an 18-7 deficit to grab a 32-30 halftime lead. But Shenendehowa's size became a huge factor in the second half.

Ginyard had trouble getting off his shot over 6-6 Tom Huerter, who scored 22 points. His younger brother, 6-5 Kevin Huerter, earned tournament MVP honors with 25 points. With no starter shorter than 6-2, the Plainsmen also controlled the glass, outrebounding Brentwood 37-24, although Allen had yet another double-double with 11 boards.

"I was worried about their size," Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. "It was tough to see over them. It was tough to shoot over them. And they were a smart team, too."

Shenendehowa answered every Brentwood challenge. The Indians trailed only 48-44 entering the fourth quarter, but the Huerters totaled 16 points in the final period and Brentwood was unable to go on one of its trademark scoring bursts.

Several Brentwood players openly wept on the bench after the game, but the tears quickly were overshadowed by cheers from a strong fan base, many wearing bright orange Wood Nation T-shirts.

"It's unbelievable the support we had,'' Almonacy said. "Last year I said we'd be back and we made it. I'm saying it again now. We'll be back. We have one more step to take.''

They've already come a long way. As Jimenez told his team, citing a 47-5 record the past two seasons, "Brentwood Nation is unbelievable. You were unbelievable. I hope this journey gives you strength in life.''


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