CRARYVILLE–After dropping their first two Patroon Conference games of the season the Taconic Hills boys basketball team reeled off three straight league wins heading into Tuesday’s home match up against the 3-1 Cairo Durham’s Mustangs.
Through the first half the Titans held the Mustangs in check, limiting the visitors to just 13 first-half points and holding senior captain Brendon Halligan to 0, but the momentum shifted coming out of the locker room as Cairo surged ahead by one. The fourth quarter saw the Titans offense stall, scoring just two points as they fell 45-30.
Neither squad’s offense set the world on fire to start the game, but Taconic Hills clearly got off to the better start. Ryan Havlik scored on the Titans first possession for a 2-0 lead. Neither team would score again for nearly four minutes until Anthony Chiacaiza hit a three to push the lead to five.
Over two minutes later the Mustangs got on the board for the first time, hitting one of two free throws after a questionable foul call. Mustang Sawyer Spohler then scored in transition, giving his team a little momentum as the quarter wound down. With under 10 seconds remaining the Titans ran an out of bounds play that saw senior guard Mitchell McComb get open and bury a three-pointer, giving the Titans an 8-3 lead at the end of the first.
Each team stayed in their same defense, the Mustangs in a tough man-to-man, and the Titans in a swarming 3-2 zone, but each offense adjusted in the second quarter. McComb started the quarter off well, stealing a pass at mid-court and sprinting in for a layup before Cairo scored four consecutive points. Chris Campbell responded hitting a three-pointer for the Titans off a McComb drive and kick. The teams traded hoops through the rest of the quarter with the Titans scoring the final four of the half on a Cane Vertis basket in transition and a pair of Havlik free throws with under a minute to put the Titans up 21-13.
Cairo got on board quickly coming out of the half, but Titans’ Dean Mazzacelli responded with a hoop down low. Titians’ Halligan got on board with a three-pointer for C-D and Chiacaiza responded with one of his own for the Titans. Two free throws by the Mustangs were countered by a Vertis hoop on the inside, but that was the end of the responses by the Titans as they let their lead slip away.
Cairo scored five straight points to pull within three, but the Titans still had possession and a chance to re-extend their lead. After a double foul and some aggressive play by the Mustangs, Taconic Hills coach Chris Preusser was whistled for a game changing technical foul. Halligan went to the line and pulled the Mustangs to within one with 1:50 left to play in the third.
Neither team scored another basket until Danny Dewey hit his only bucket of the game for Cairo, sinking a three pointer with 19 seconds left to put his team up two heading to the final stanza.
If the seven-point third quarter was an offensive struggle for the Titans then the fourth was an offensive disaster. The Mustangs spread out their offense, with Halligan leading the charge with nine points, but the Titans would not get a hoop until the final seconds on a Chiacaiza drive, as the Titans squandered their lead and fell by 15.
The Titans fall to 3-3 in the Patroon Conference with the loss. Chiacaiza hit a pair of three’s on his way to 10 points, while Havlik had 6 points, all in an active first half for the junior. McComb added 5, Vertis had 4, Campbell 3 and Mazzacelli added 2 in the loss.