Follow the state basketball tournament on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ
The pressure that had become the Poughkeepsie trademark this season was finally taking a toll. Burke Catholic seemed immune to for three quarters, building a 17-point lead before the Pioneers finally made the Section 9 power look a step slower.
“I think we were a little tired and they pressed us really well,” Burke point guard Jack Dwyer said. “It feels good to leave here with a win”
Dwyer and Burke mustered up just enough of a surge in the final minutes to hold off Poughkeepsie’s charge, walking away with a 67-58 victory in the Class A state regional semifinal at the Mount St. Mary College.
Poughkeepsie used a 16-4 run in the final four minutes to close to within four before Burke scored the game’s final five points to preserve the win.
Stan Buczek had 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter for Burke, which faces Section 4 champ Maine-Endwell in the regional finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Binghamton High School.
“I think their pressure got to us a bit in the end and we weren't really executing,” said Buczek, a 6-foot-6 senior who also grabbed 11 rebounds. “But I think it was our trust in ourselves and in our teammates that helped us pull out the win in the end.”
Burke is attempting to get to the state final four in Glens Falls for the fourth straight season. The last three were in Class B, including a state title win in 2011.
"I think (a state title) was realistic the whole time," Buczek said. "We have confidence in ourselves and our teammates. I think we all felt we could get back to Glens Falls if we all worked together."
This Burke squad sure looks state title worthy, even in Class A. On Wednesday the Eagles protected the ball, knocked down open shots and were able to do something no Class A team in Section 1 could — match their speed.
Dwyer was exceptional running the Burke offense. He keyed a second quarter run that put the Eagles ahead 35-29 at the half and ran an offense that broke the game open in the third.
Poughkeepsie, though, wouldn’t go down quietly. Jahleel Carter, the MVP of the Section 1 tournament, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth and Jermar Dancy scored eight of his team-high 21 in the frame.
Dancy’s 3-pointer with 1:27 to play pulled the Pioneers to 62-58. Burke followed with a turnover against Poughkeepsie’s press but the Pioneers couldn’t capitalize.
“I knew that we weren't going to quick,” Poughkeepsie coach Brian Laffin said. "They were going to battle like they have for two years as a group. I'm real proud of them. A situation here and there was different, who knows?"
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org