The Red Hook boys varsity basketball team made it look easy March 7 when they beat Walter Panas High School, 60-46, to win the Class A regional championship and earn a state final four spot for the first time since 2010.
And they also made it look fun: after the win at Beacon High School, the Raiders took to the stands to dance, whoop, and generally freak out with their classmates and fans.
In routing the Section 1 champion Panthers, four Raiders put up double-digit scoring numbers and six threes.
Red Hook took an early lead and never looked back. After small-balling their way through the first and struggling only against Panas’ putback game, Raider Nolan Dalton hung a high-arching three to beat the buzzer and put Red Hook up 14-7 going into the second.
Panas stepped up the middle defense in the top of the second quarter and had Red reeling for a couple of minutes, forcing some bad Raider passes and stifling the normally fluid Red Hook offensive game. But it didn’t last long: the Panthers, desperate for some offense, heaved two would-be three pointer airballs from either side of the arc. Red Hook then got back in the game: within the last four minutes, Luke White, Paddy Parr, Nick Michitsch, and Dennis Hare all got on the board.
Red Hook’s frantic scoring pace at the end forced two Panas timeouts in as many minutes towards the end of the quarter, and Red Hook went into halftime up 26-16.
The Raiders hit their scoring stride in the third quarter. Hare hit a layup at 6:36, and was followed by a Parr putback 20 seconds later. White had a pair of easy buckets off assists halfway through the quarter, and scored once again on a dish at 3:04. But the razzle-dazzle really wouldn’t start until the opening of the fourth.
With Red Hook up 38-28 going into the final period, Hare hit a monster three at 7:34 and followed it up with a crowd-pleasing trey from the top of the arc at 7:01, which he punctuated with a Tiger Woods-style fist pump. The longball put Red up 44-28.
“The two threes – the first one I was wide open, so I had to take the shot. The second one, well, I was feeling it, and I had to take it from the field and I just knocked it down,” a giddy Hare told the Observer after the game.
Panas made a late game push – even sinking an elusive three-pointer – but Red Hook came out on top, having led by as many as 16 points in the game.
White and Michitsch each finished the game with a solid 10 points, and Hare ended up leading all scorers with 17.
With the win, Red Hook will play in the Glens Falls Civic Center on March 15 at 9am in the state semifinal against the winner of the regional championship game between Rochester East and McKinley.
“I know I keep saying the same stat but we’re averaging 20 assist per game. Our guys just play unselfishly. The reason for that is that we have five guys on the floor who can finish. But defense is what we really pride ourselves on. I tell my guys that I’m not worried about the offense – sometimes we go on streaks where we turn it over, we get a little turnover crazy. But defensively, we’re on a streak. We’ve won five games in a row against really good teams,” Red Hook head coach Matt Hayes told the Observer.