PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y — For the Stony Brook School, the final seconds were a series of hacks. The Bears never did crack the code.
Trailing Haldane by one with 19 seconds left, Stony Brook had possession near midcourt. What seemed like an enviable position turned out to be an exercise in futility because Haldane had four fouls to give before a one-and-one foul-shot scenario.
The seconds ticked off painfully.
Ball inbounded. Deliberate foul. 17 seconds left.
Ball inbounded. Deliberate foul. 14.6 seconds left.
Ball inbounded. Deliberate foul. 12.1 seconds left.
Ball inbounded. Deliberate foul. 7.0 seconds left.
“It’s almost like you’re in shackles,” Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey said of the way his offense was stymied at the end.
The Bears did have those final seven seconds, but Haldane hung on for a 35-34 win Friday night in a state Class C regional final at Pace University, where a large, loud crowd cheered the Blue Devils, from Cold Spring in Putnam County.
“We had a set play that I felt good about,” Hickey said, “and we tried to get fouled quickly so we could run it.”
Haldane foiled that strategy with its fouls, so Hickey tried one more wrinkle. “With seven seconds left, we wanted our little guy [Brandon Providence] to penetrate and kick it out to Luke [O’Connor],” Hickey said. “Unfortunately, they stopped Brandon at the top of the key.”
Unable to get to the basket, Providence gave it to O’Connor, who had sunk four three-pointers and scored 15 points. But the senior didn’t have time to get to the perimeter, was forced to try to dribble in traffic and stumbled without getting off a shot.
The Bears (15-6) again fell one win short of a trip to Glens Falls for the state final four. Hickey said his team has lost in the regional finals four times.
The pace and opponent were familiar. Haldane built a large lead in last year’s final and withstood a late Stony Brook rally in a 39-32 victory.
Points again were at a premium. The Bears scored one field goal in nine minutes spanning late in the third quarter to late in the fourth. But with Stony Brook trailing 35-28, O’Connor stepped into a three- pointer and Providence hit a long straightaway three-pointer with 45 seconds left. “Our guys have short memories,” Hickey said, referring to the scoring drought.
The Bears got the ball back but never got a chance to take a potential game-winning shot, victims of a successful hack attack.