Here’s Mike Doughtery’s story on how one Haldane senior couldn’t miss and how it led Haldane one step closer to a gold ball:
WHITE PLAINS – Mike Halpin didn’t have any problems adjusting to the bigger stage.
The senior forward was too often left alone in the corner, and knew exactly what to do with time and space. He poured in a career-high 23 points for Haldane in a 62-57 win over Hamilton in a Class C semifinal on Monday at the County Center.
“I didn’t want to let up,” Halpin said. “I didn’t want this to be my last game playing with these guys. The defense was kind of sagging off me a little bit. If you’re going to leave me open I’ll just rip it.”
The second-seeded Red Raiders did eventually get a hand or two in the way, but it really didn’t matter.
“Even when we contested, he shot the ball well,” Hamilton coach Keith Wright said. “I haven’t seen anyone shoot the ball like that in a while. He found his stroke and got in a comfort zone. Kudos to them. I hope they go out and get it. We’ll be back next year.”
The Blue Devils will be playing for their first championship since 2001 when they meet No. 1 Irvington or No. 4 Putnam Valley here at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Halpin connected six times from behind the arc. Peter Hoffman added 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 3 Haldane. They were a deadly mix in the opening minutes of the second half, bringing Haldane back from a 35-28 deficit.
After looking nervous early on, Haldane came out from the break with a 16-4 run.
Hoffman got things rolling with a little hustle inside. Halpin tied matters with a deep 3 just three minutes into the pivotal third quarter.
Each mistake by Hamilton proved costly.
“It was all intensity,” Hoffman said. “The first half we came out flat. We were probably a little nervous. It’s the County Center. It’s a big place to play. … We knew we were going to miss shots. It happens. In the second half we were ready to go.”
Wright did what he could to settle his team, but the frustration kept building.
Hoffman’s drove for a three-point play to get the Blue Devils up 38-36 five minutes into the half. John Rotando made the first and only Red Raiders basket, a 3-pointer, with 3:31 to go in the quarter, but Haldane ran off six more points before the buzzer ended the run.
Eli Sierra, who finished with 23 points, attempted to shoot the Red Raiders back into the game, but Halpin drained consecutive 3s early in the fourth to get momentum back and make it a 52-45 lead.