Newburgh had to fight its way in a nine-team field to reach the Section 9, Class AA quarterfinal Monday Feb. 26 in a boys’ basketball game at Pine Bush.
Two days earlier, on a Saturday afternoon, the Goldbacks played a balanced game to decisively stop FDR from advancing to the quarterfinal. And that momentum carried over against Pine Bush, the top-seed and the defending Section 9, Class AA champion.
Pine Bush beat Newburgh twice in the regular season when the Goldbacks failed to win a league game. In the quarterfinal last week, the Goldbacks had a chance and tied it 18-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Pine Bush led 32-30 at the half before the Goldbacks pulled in front in the third quarter with a Zech Barnes’ three and a basket by Izzy Williams to lead 35-32. But at that point, Newburgh’s season reached its final peak.
Pine Bush’s Anthony Potts landed a three to tie it 35-35 before the Bushmen went on a 17-7 run through the remainder of the quarter. The Bushmen, helped by a stingy defense, kept pulling away before winning 72-55.
“In the second half, we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to. They executed more. They got the ball down low,” said Matt Brown, Newburgh’s coach. “We did not make our shots.”
Barnes led Newburgh with 19 points when he landed five threes, and Caleb Simmons scored 18 points for the Goldbacks. Brandon Powell led the Bushmen with 25 points, scoring 12 points in the fourth as Pine Bush buried Newburgh’s season.
Powell’s twin, Bryan, scored 23 points. Bryan Powell was honored early in the game after he scored five points, earning a spot for the rest of his life on a banner for scoring 1,000-career points. Brandon Powell joined the 1,000-point club earlier in the season, and they now join their brother, Justin, in the exclusive group.
“It’s two rivalry teams. It’s a competitive basketball game. We don’t want to be a second half team, but when push comes to shove, and our team knows there is no guarantee of tomorrow right now, that’s motivation amongst itself,” said Steve Distefano, Pine Bush’s coach. “That’s definitely the reason we turned it up.”
The Powell twins played with their brother, Justin, as sophomores before winning the sectional title as juniors. Mason Memmelaar, a senior, also helped the Bushmen with their memorable run as one of the best teams in the state during the last two seasons.
The Goldbacks have struggled during the time of Pine Bush’s dominance before finding a groove in the second half of this season. Brown started five juniors against Pine Bush and used a few freshmen in the game.
Jake Cook and Pete Matthews, seniors, also made it into the game. They will not return next year, but many others will, and Brown is excited about the future.
“We’re going to be very good next year. This should be our last year where we struggle a little bit,” said Brown. “We should start making noise now.”
By Bond Brungard