JOHNSTOWN - Entering Thursday, the Johnstown Sir Bills had alternated wins and losses for seven straight games. That trend came to an end as the Queensbury Spartans handed Johnstown their second straight defeat 54-39 at Johnstown High School.
Johnstown grabbed a lead in the first quarter and held it until the final minute of the third, but a lackluster second-half performance by the Sir Bills allowed the Spartans to crawl all the way back before cruising to a 15-point win. Queensbury outscored Johnstown 32-14 in the final two quarters.
The lead exchanged hands six times in the first period of action. Jon Heroth led the Sir Bills, converting three game-tying layups in the quarter. Heroth was also active on the boards in the frame, pulling down five before going on to finish with a team-high nine points and nine rebounds. With Queensbury up 11-10, Alec Hornidge drained a three-pointer that gave Johnstown a lead they wouldn't relinquish for nearly two full quarters.
Queensbury’s Keeghan O'Leary (33) defends Johnstown’s Jon Heroth (23) as he dribbles the ball during Thursday’s Foothills Council game at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
The Spartans dug themselves into a hole early by giving the ball away with frequency. Queensbury logged seven turnovers in the second quarter and 11 in the first half overall. Johnstown totaled just four turnovers in the first 16 minutes.
The Sir Bills grabbed a 5-point lead, their largest of the half, early in the second quarter after back-to-back buckets by Austin Riska and Hornidge. The Spartans struggled from the field, converting just two field goals while excelling from the free-throw line to keep the score close. The Spartans went 6 of 7 from the stripe in the quarter and finished with 18 free throws made in the game. Johnstown hit just seven times from the line.
Queensbury cut down their turnovers and dominated Johnstown in the second half after an uninspired effort in the first two quarters. Down 31-25 following a triple from Johnstown's Jamal Vazquez, Queensbury's Eric Daley answered with a corner three of his own to spark a 12-3 run. A layup by Brett Rodriguez tied the game at 31 and another Rodriguez layup late in the quarter gave Queensbury its first advantage of the game since leading 11-10.
Johnstown trailed by just three entering the final stanza, but Adam Troelstra hit Queensbury's second three-pointer of the game right out of the gate to push their lead to six before the Spartans' leading scorer Keeghan O'Leary took over.
O'Leary, who had a quiet six points in the first three quarters, made his presence known in the fourth. Midway through, the 6-foot-5 center knocked down back-to-back jumpers to give Queensbury an 8-point lead. With Queensbury up 47-37, O'Leary stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for the slam. O'Leary's dunk and post-dunk theatrics drew the ire of the Sir Bills faithful, but also effectively ended any hope of Johnstown climbing back into the contest. The Spartans finished the game on a 13-2 run, spurred in part by seven Johnstown turnovers.
O'Leary finished the fourth quarter with eight points and tallied a game-high 14. He also pulled down nine rebounds. The Sir Bills did not have a player reach double-figures in points and were outrebounded 30-20. Each team committed 15 turnovers.
Johnstown's final regular-season game comes Tuesday at Glens Falls. The Sir Bills edged the Indians 59-57 at home on Jan. 14. Queensbury will finish its regular season at home versus Scotia-Glenville.
Queensbury 54, Johnstown 39
Queensbury 12 10 15 17 - 54
Johnstown13 12 9 5 - 39
O'Leary 5-4-14, Troelstra 2-5-10, Minott 1-5-7, Rodriguez 3-0-6, Switzer 3-0-6, Marasco 1-2-4, Daley 1-0-3, Voorhis 1-0-2, Dennett 0-1-1, Twyman 0-1-1. Totals 17-18-54.
Heroth 4-1-9, Riska 4-0-8, Hornidge 2-2-7, Vazquez 1-3-6, Caputo 2-0-4, Auty 1-1-3, Boyle 1-0-2. Totals 15-7-39.
3-point-goals: Queensbury 2 (Daley, Troelstra); Johnstown 2 (Hornidge, Vazquez)