This week Pine Bush’s boys’ basketball team will defend its Section 9, Class AA title, but a reminder of how tough the tournament could be took place on President’s Day at Burke in Goshen.
As most students enjoyed a final day of a long weekend, the Bushmen were fighting to save their undefeated season against an opponent they stopped when they won the sectional title they are defending this week.
Burke led 10-3 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. Pine Bush overcame that early deficit until it was tied 39-39 at the end of the third quarter. Both teams battled in the fourth quarter until Burke took the lead late and survived to win 54-51 by taking down the state’s fourth ranked AA team.
“We expected a dog fight today, and that’s what it was. They outworked us,” said Steve Distefano, Pine Bush coach. “This is something that will be a learning experience. It is humbling. It’s one game at a time right now. That’s for real. This is playoff time, so what better motivation than to come off of that.”
Pine Bush dropped to 19-1 as Burke snapped the Bushmen’s 47-game regular season winning streak.
After Burke jumped out to a quick start the Bushmen started finding a groove and pushed back. Brandon Powell, who scored three points in the first half, scored 15 points in the second half with a three. Bryan Powell, who scored 18 points in the game, with 10 points in the second half, landed a shot with 3:50 left in the fourth to give Pine Bush a 47-46 lead.
Mason Memmelaar scored 10 points for the Bushmen and finished a shot as the game went back and fourth. Burke led 54-51 in the closing seconds when Memmelaar put the ball up from the perimeter. It did not fall, and Burke handed the Bushmen their first loss of the season.
“I don’t think we came ready enough. We were not prepared for what they were going to bring at us,” said Memmelaar, a senior. “And at the end, we fell short.”
Jake Pauliczak led Burke with 22 points.
By Bond Brungard