The Kingston High School boys basketball team locked up its playoff berth ages ago, and now it’s just a question of their seed. With three games remaining in the regular season, the Tigers are 15-2, their second loss coming in the middle of a busy week against an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Section I powerhouse.
That loss, a 103-59 road drubbing on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the hands of a Horace Greeley team that opened the season splitting their first six games before reeling off 12 straight wins, was more of a hiccup than a sign of things to come. At least that’s what Kingston Coach Ron Kelder and his Tigers are hoping.
Based on the first quarter alone, the game looked likely to go down to the wire, with Kingston trailing just 27-25. But everything unraveled from there on out, with the Quakers outscoring the Tigers 50-15 over the second and third quarters. Horace Greeley scored from everywhere, including 13 three-point shots. Christoph Sauerborn accounted for more than half of the Quakers’ treys with a 26-point, seven assist outing. Sophomore Nick Townshend dominated inside with 36 points and 22 rebounds, while Chris Melis added 13 in the home team’s win.
The Tigers were seemingly unable to stop the Quakers on defense, and were unable to match them on offense. Shy’quan Royal led Kingston with 13 points, while Brady Short (11 points), ShaCorey Jones (10 points), Chris Whitaker (9 points), Clayton Patillo (8 points) and Dylan Perry (6 points) contributed.
The defeat at Horace Greeley was bookended by a pair of close wins for the Tigers, the sorts of tough contests that are more likely the deeper Kingston travels through the postseason.
It started at Middletown on Thursday, Jan. 30, when the Tigers overcame a sluggish start to earn the 67-64 victory over their sectional foe. The Middies (6-9 overall, 1-4 league) are struggling this season, but they opened the game looking like world beaters, racing out to a 10-0 lead. Kingston fought back, with the two teams taking a 19-19 tie into the second quarter. The Tigers pulled ahead, leading by six heading into the final frame, but the game was close throughout.
Patillo led the Tigers with 24 points, while Royal (18 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists), Short (10 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), Perry (9 points) and Daiveyon Jackson (4 points, 7 rebounds) also contributed.
The Tigers also took it to the wire in their first game after the loss to the Quakers, when they beat visiting Pine Bush 84-80 at Kate Walton Field House on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Kingston was electric from outside by design against the significantly taller visitors, with half of their total score coming from beyond the arc. The Tigers also managed to overcome a 34 point, 10 rebound performance by the Bushmen’s Chris Cain in the win. Kingston’s 14 3-pointers matched their total during a win at Pine Bush earlier this season.
The Tigers led by seven early on, but trailed by 10 at the half. Kingston returned from intermission invigorated, knotting the game at 43-43 during a 27-point third quarter. While the two teams remained close, Kingston too the lead in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Pine Bush cut Kingston’s advantage to 72-71 and 77-74 down the stretch, but the home team proved unflappable, even with the 6-foot-8 Cain wreaking havoc in the paint.
As has been customary this season, the Tigers saw several different players factor into the scoring, with Short earning top honors this time with 22 points and eight assists. Royal (18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks) also played crucial ball, as did Patillo (16 points) and Perry (11 points).
The Tigers stay home on Friday, Feb. 7 when they host Valley Central. Newburgh Free Academy comes to visit for a Valentine’s Day battle one week later, with the final regular season game scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 when Kingston travels to Washingtonville for crossover action.