Not often does the No. 1-ranked team in the state get to face the No. 2-ranked team in the state.
That scenario will play out at 1:30 p.m. today at the Glens Falls Civic Center as the top-ranked Pine Plains Bombers take on the second-ranked Silver Creek Black Knights in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association basketball semifinals.
It will be the first final four appearance in school history for both teams.
Zed Williams leads the Silver Creek Black Knights into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinals today against Pine Plains at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg
From the left are Silver Creek senior Kaine Kettle and sophomore Billy Brooks.
P-J photos by Scott Kindberg
It's a David-vs.-Goliath matchup.
Pine Plains, the Section 9 champion, is known for its size. All five starters are 6-foot-2 or taller. Point guard Justin Cooper (6-3) averages more than 20 points per game, six assists, seven rebounds and four steals. Meanwhile, Tyler Lydon (6-8) averages 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Tyler's brother, Zach, (6-9) averages 15 points and eight rebounds. And both Lydon brothers are no stranger to shooting the 3-pointer as they have combined for 54 treys this season.
"We are flexible," Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto said. "We are really comfortable playing a slower-pace game or getting out in transition. We have size, but it doesn't mean we want to slow it up. It just depends on the matchup."
Tyler Lydon is a junior and has offers to play college ball at Division 1 schools such as James Madison, Marist, Siena and Syracuse.
"For a big team, they move," Silver Creek coach Rob Genco said. "I have watched film. Tyler Lydon is a 6-8 version of (Silver Creek guard) Stephen Marcey. He is like watching Marcey, but he is 6-8. He is smooth. He is a great player. He is Division 1 caliber who can play. It's not the first time we have played against a D-1 player."
Silver Creek does not have the size the Bombers possess, but has averaged 70 points this season thanks to its run-and-gun style of offense and 3-point shooting. Its long-range shooting will have to be on the mark if it wants to keep the game close.
"For us, I think we can't not hit our 3s Friday," Genco said. "I don't think we can go in and shoot 19 for 53 and win. We have to shoot better. It's not easy when you have guys closing in on you who are 6-9. We have to hit. I need Kaine Kettle, Brennan White and Stephen Marcey to shoot 40 percent from behind the arc.
"Kaine is a very talented point guard and talented shooter," Genco continued. "I am confident they will do what they are supposed to do. Kaine believes in his ability. The same goes for Marcey. They can shoot. They have the green light. If they aren't hitting them in the first quarter, they have to keep shooting until they find their stroke. They will take smart shots and knock them down."
Silver Creek's only player who stands in comparison to Pine Plain's height is 6-7 sophomore Billy Brooks.
"(Pine Plains) hasn't seen a Billy Brooks," Genco noted. "The biggest guy they have seen is 6-5. I don't think either one of those Lydon kids possess the same blocking ability that Brooks has. I don't think Billy is as tall as they are, but they haven't seen anything like Billy yet."
Along with Brooks, Marcey, White and Kettle, the Black Knights will be led by senior Zeddie Williams.
"Zeddie Williams seems like the James Brown of Western New York," LoBrutto joked of Silver Creek's top threat. "He sounds like a stud. Brooks is a shot blocker. His size is similar to the Lydon brothers. Obviously anyone at this point is a quality team. It's no fluke they are here, that's for sure. They have great athletes and I am impressed. I think both teams match up well and it should be a great game. From what I have seen, they are well coached. They are very disciplined. I am looking forward to it."
All season long, Genco has preached the fact his team has to play their style of basketball. Throughout the playoff run, the Black Knights have stuck with the formula which has gotten them to this point.
"I have talked to coaches who mentored me and they said, 'Don't be afraid to do what you do,'" Genco said. "I know going in, we don't match up size-wise. We have to do things we don't normally do, but nothing is new to us. We have different defensive packages. We might have to try to do something different to stop their size. I have all the confidence that if we play well and do what we do, we have a good game plan going in. I like our chances. We are down to the top four teams in the state. If you have a bad night, you will not win."
The Silver Creek School district had a sendoff Thursday morning to wish the team luck. It was just another example of how the community has embraced this historic run for the basketball program.
"The community has been unbelievable," Genco said. "This basketball team has brought this community together more than anything I have seen at Silver Creek. To a lot of people, it's just high school basketball. To us, it's our world. It brings people together. It's a positive thing in the community. To have the support is awesome and appreciated. I hope our boys look back some day and realize how awesome it is and to have a village behind you and supporting you. Everyone does their part to help these kids become good people."
"We have the size, but you have to remember, they are still teenagers," LoBrutto concluded. "I think for anyone, the big stage is a big factor for every team. It does come down to who handles the moment better. Any of these four teams can win it. The numbers and rankings don't mean anything at this point."