New Paltz boys basketball defends Section 9 crown

Chris Sifre (12) against Red Hook.

After reverting to some bad habits in their 15-point loss to Ellenville in the MHAL basketball final last week, the New Paltz boys got it together quickly and routed Red Hook 71-55 in the Class A semifinal, before routing Minisink Valley (Friday, March 1 at Mount St. Mary’s) 58-44 in the final to defend their Section 9 title. It was a first for the Huguenots and the first team to repeat in Class A since Red Hook in 2010-2011.

And it was sweet. With all parts working and in sync, New Paltz, now 18-4, shared the scoring…and the ball, with its talent on full display. Against Red Hook, the Huguenots broke out big-time halfway through the first quarter, turning a 7-7 tie into a 19-10 advantage after the first eight minutes. At 7-7, Chris Sifre hit off a fast-break, Matt Simmons hit a side-jumper and Patrick Murphy a jumper from the key the string broken by hot-shooting Chris Yearwood’s three-pointer for the Raiders then a Sifre three from the corner, an Axel Rodriguez steal and coast-to-coast breakaway, and finally, one-of-two free throws from Casey Burke.

In the second quarter, a still hot Yearwood and teammate Brandon Cahill shot Red Hook into a 24-23 lead, as New Paltz could garner only a couple baskets by Sammy Marshall, but Sifre made a pretty feed to Murphy, with the big guy (6-7) hitting the bucket at the buzzer for a 25-24 lead.

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New Paltz, like they did against Marlboro in last week’s MHAL semifinal, opened the second-half with a rush, outscoring Red Hook 18-3 (another three by Yearwood) over the first four minutes: it was Murphy with a baseline jumper, Sifre with another three, Murphy with a putback of a Simmons miss and the free throw, Rodriguez on a breakaway off a Simmons steal it was 35-24. Then Yearwood’s three and Rodriguez to match him, Burke on a breakaway and a free throw and Murphy with a jumper from the lane. It was 43-27, with the quarter ending 53-39.

The Huguenots kept their collective foot on the pedal in the final eight minutes as the Raiders could get no closer than eleven points (64-53) with 2:00 remaining. Baskets by Marshall and Sifre (off breakaways fed by Rodriguez) and a pair of Rodriguez free throws ended it.

Murphy led New Paltz with 20 points, with Rodriguez adding 18, Sifre 13 and Marshall ten. Yearwood’s 31 led Red Hook.

New Paltz wasted little time against Minisink, opening the game with a 12-0 run that led to an insurmountable 30-15 halftime lead. Murphy, playing the best ball of his career in both games, hit for eleven of his game-high 15 points in the first-half. Rodriguez chipped in with 12 and Burke 14, as the intense New Paltz defense rattled the younger team from Orange County playing their first Section 9 final since 2010.

The Huguenots will play either Section 1 Poughkeepsie or Tappan Zee in a State first-round game this Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. at SUNY New Paltz.

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