Two days after Marlboro staved off Ellenville’s second half attack to capture a Section 9, Class B title, the Dukes faced an early 9-0 attack by Briarcliff Manor during a regional semifinal at Newburgh’s Mount Saint Mary College.
“The way they kind of shot the ball early on,” said Mike Koehler, Marlboro’s coach,” it’s easy to freak out.”
The Dukes stayed calm and in and out of the game. Trailing 34-24 at that half, the Dukes pulled within a point, down 50-49, with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. But then a late scoring drought took over, and Briarcliff Manor pulled in front to win 57-51.
“John (Perugino) hit the lay-up, and Jaiden (Allen) hit the two free throws down the stretch,” said Koehler. “We kind of went cold.”
Jaiden Allen led Marlboro with 17 points, and the senior landed his final points as a Duke and in the game when he hit a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter. Allen finished the game with a pair of threes along with five foul shots during six attempts. Austin Casey and John Perugino each scored 10 points with a pair threes.
Perugino felt the momentum in the fourth could push the team to victory and on to the regional final.
“We were definitely thinking we could take the lead and close it out. Unfortunately some things didn’t go our way,” said Perugino, a senior and team captain. “But we fought hard, we played hard, and I’m proud of our guys.”
The Dukes, a state Class B finalist in 2016, finished the season 20-4. Perugino, Allen and Casey played on that team, and the trio has spent their final season scoring in double figures.
And they did that again in the final game despite coming up six points short.
“We played so hard, so I could not be more proud of them,” said Koehler. “We just fought back, and it shows the character of the team.”
By Bond Brungard