Here is my story on Palisade Prep’s loss to Pine Plains in the regional semifinal.
NEWBURGH Size matters.
That much was made clear as Palisade Prep’s Isaiah Ward, the Phoenix’s tallest player at 6-foot-3, lined up against Pine Plains’ 6-foot-9 Zach Lydon at the tipoff of Tuesday’s Class C boys basketball regional semifinal.
Although Ward won the tip, the Bombers would use their size to their advantage for the remainder of the game, handing the Phoenix a 63-40 loss at Mount St. Mary College in their first appearance in the state tournament.
“I don’t think I have ever played against 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 players, so it was really different,” Palisade Prep senior Fred Truss Jr. said of Lydon and his 6-8 brother, Tyler. “It’s a challenge. That’s what we are here for though — to be challenged.”
Section 9 champ Pine Plains advanced to Saturday’s 2 p.m. state regional final at SUNY Old Westbury, against the winner of Stony Brook (Section 11) and Friends Academy (Section 8).
The Bombers (19-2), whose starting point guard, Justin Cooper, stands 6-4, outrebounded the Phoenix 42-26 and had nine blocks.
All but one of Pine Plains’ field goals came from inside the paint, as the Lydon brothers — Tyler (22 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, three assists) and Zach (20 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) — proved to be a dominant force.
“We really had no answer for their size inside,” Palisade Prep coach Sean Stahn said. “They just kept going inside to the paint.”
The guard-heavy Phoenix planned to push the tempo of the game. But Palisade Prep struggled to pick up the pace as Pine Plains took a 30-16 lead into halftime.
The Phoenix (18-4) went on a 7-1 run to open the third and cut the lead to eight thanks to inspired play by Truss, who finished with a team-high 12 points and tied for game high with 11 rebounds.
“They can be 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 but my heart is 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9,” the 6-foot-1 Truss said. “It really helps me having a lot of heart, and I’m nothing without my team.”
Easy baskets for Pine Plains killed any momentum Palisade Prep could build. The Bombers would push the lead to 13 by quarter’s end.
Pine Plains, which advanced after having fallen to Tuckahoe in the regional semis the past two seasons, was an example of how Stahn would like his returning players to take the loss.
“For the guys coming back, this is an experience for next year, kind of like Pine Plains,” Stahn said. “You have to get over that hump. We lost in the County Center (in 2011) and we didn’t even get back there last year, but we overcame the hump this year and then ran into another one.”