Bushmen win, earn berth in Section 9 tourney

By Mike Zummo
Posted 1/12/22

The Pine Bush boys’ basketball team was leading by three, but the Warwick Wildcats still had a chance.

However, Warwick’s Tim Leonard launched a 3-point shot that fell short and the …

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Bushmen win, earn berth in Section 9 tourney

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The Pine Bush boys’ basketball team was leading by three, but the Warwick Wildcats still had a chance.

However, Warwick’s Tim Leonard launched a 3-point shot that fell short and the Bushmen could breathe again, as the miss gave them a 52-49 victory on Friday night, clinching a berth in next month’s Section 9 Class AA tournament.

“It was fun,” said Evan Jaloszynski, who led the Bushmen with a game-high 12 points. “We had a shot to get back in sectionals. We just came off a rough streak and I’m glad to be back on top.”

The win ends the Bushmen’s five-game losing streak that started with a 66-59 loss to the Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders on Dec. 17. It also was only their third game since Dec. 23’s loss to the Kingston Tigers. They played one game over the Holiday Recess, a tournament loss to Fordham Preparatory at Albertus Magnus.

Their second tournament game was canceled, making Friday’s game the Bushmen’s first in 10 days.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been on the court in a game situation,” Pine Bush coach Dan Conley said. “We’ve been on virtual all week so that throws a difference in the plans. We’re waiting for guys to get rides back to the school. Some guys can get there early so the practicing timing doesn’t work out perfectly. So, this is the first time we’re back in a sort of normal routine of game night.”

It wasn’t so normal as both schools were closed on Friday due to inclement weather that left a few inches of snow on the ground Thursday morning.

The Bushmen didn’t always make it easy on themselves as they led by as many as eight points early in the fourth quarter. Then, Warwick’s Jonah Mederos drained a 3-pointer to cut the Bushmen’s lead to five points, and then the Bushmen were unable to take advantage of a personal and technical foul on the same play.
Mason Miranowicz hit the front end of a one-and-one, but Jaloszynski missed both technical shots and then Mederos hit a layup to cut Pine Bush’s lead to four points.

Then a layup by Jacob Gonzalez and a basket by Leonard tied the game at 43-43. However, Jaloszynski answered by driving to the basket to break the tie. He fell to the court on the play and never saw the basket go in.

There was only one thing on his mind at that point.

“I was just focused on getting back on defense.”

However, the lead didn’t last long as Warwick’s Harrison Neil knocked down two 3-pointers around a Miranowicz free throw to give the Wildcats a 49-46 lead with 3:12 left in the game.

“Warwick never gave up,” Conley said. “They fought back hard, which you know they’re going to do. We had a couple of defensive lapses, and they were doing what we should have been doing. They were using the clock, going through their possessions, waiting for the best shot.”

Those were the last points the Wildcats would score, and the Bushmen got back on track.

“We were just thinking that we’ve got to keep working hard and stick to it,” Jaloszynski said. “We knew we were the better team, so we had to push through and fight until the end.”

Derek Hickman, who scored 11 points for the Bushmen, scored to pull them within one and then Jacob Santiago, who added 10. Gave the Bushmen the lead for good with 1:22 to go with a basket.

He then hit two free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining to set up Warwick’s final shot to tie.

“We survived that one, which is good,” Conley said. “We finally came through and hit two clutch free throws at them, which cost us a couple of games, not hitting free throws when we needed to.”

The win also puts the Bushmen in best position to win Division II of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association, as they’re the only team to sweep the first run through the division. However, they were swept away by Division I opponents.

“We’re ready to win the division next,” Jaloszynski said.

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