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NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — Doug Janeczko isn’t a yeller. But when Burke Catholic’s coach needs to get his point across, like he did after Thursday’s narrow escape in the semifinal, it came through loud and clear.
“I read them the riot act,” Janeczko said. “I didn’t need to yell. I just told them the plain truth. You can’t get caught looking ahead.”
The message was received by the Eagles and the first quarter of Saturday’s Section 9 championship certainly proved it. They opened up 19-point lead after the opening frame and blew past New Paltz 53-34 in the Class A final at SUNY New Paltz.
It’s the fifth straight championship for Burke (16-4), with the previous four coming in Class B.
“We definitely realized we needed to focus and pick it up intensity-wise,” Burke forward Stan Buczek said. “We really weren’t composed in our last game. I think this proved we are a lot better than we played in the last game.”
Saturday’s effort featured all of the things was absent in Burke’s semifinal win over Saugerties, a 67-65 victory. Burke played with urgency, locked down on defense and protected the ball after an overall lackluster effort in the semis.
Buczek, a 6-foot-6 senior, led the way with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Pat Joyner had a team-high 12 points with six rebounds and three steals and Michael Kelly and Michael Coffey each had nine points in for the Eagles.
Burke advanced to the state regional semifinals on Wednesday at Mount St. Mary’s College in Newburgh. The Eagles will play the Section 1 champion, either Poughkeepsie or Byram Hills, at 7 p.m.
It’s the sixth trip to the state tournament in seven years for Burke, which won a state title in 2010.
“It feels a little bit different now because it’s something new,” Buczek said. “It’s great to win a section championship but we have to stay humble because we have other goals in mind.”
“It’s a great group of kids who’ve worked hard from the start,” Janeczko said. “You saw today that we were unselfish from the start and we played hard. That’s all I ever ask of these kids all the time.”
Burke ran New Paltz off the floor on Saturday, taking a 24-5 lead after first quarter and allowed just 12 points by halftime.
Jesse Longmire had eight points, seven rebounds and three steals and Kyle Smith keyed the big opening first quarter with a pair of 3-pointers.
Burke will look to make its third straight trip to the state final four in Glens Falls after beating Albertus Magnus in the Class B regionals the last two years. The Eagles know both Poughkeepsie and Byram Hills poses a major roadblock.
“I know they’re both fast-paced and have a lot of good players,” Buczek said. “We’re going to have to come out and play well to win.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com