Facing fourth-seeded Queensbury in the quarterfinal round of the Section II Class A tournament Sunday at Hudson Valley Community College, the Dragons came out on fire, hitting five of their first seven shots. Coupled with a 7-of-10 effort from behind the 3-point line in the opening quarter, No. 5 Gloversville built a 15-point lead en route to defeating Queensbury 68-56 to advance to the Class A semifinal game for the first time since 2014.
“It was very important to get that start,” Gloversville coach Aric Kucel said. “They [Queensbury] know what we do and we know what they do. We split one-and-one this season so we knew it was going to be a good matchup, so getting off to that good start was huge.”
Gloversville (15-6) will face a familiar foe in top-seeded Amsterdam (17-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinal round at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
The Dragons and Running Rams split their regular-season Foothills Council games with Amsterdam winning the first 69-62 and Gloversville winning the second in overtime 85-79.
Gloversville built its early lead three points at a time.
Dante Bouchard opened the game drawing a foul as he drove to the basket and completed a three-point play, Joey Rowback hit back-to-back 3-pointers that Julien Deumaga followed with two 3-pointers to build a 15-7 lead as the Dragons connected on five of their first six shots in the game.
Anderson Jones brought a defensive rebound the length of the court for a lay-up before Deumaga hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter and Bouchard closed out the period with back-to-back 3s to stake the Dragons to a 26-11 lead.
“We are a very good 3-point shooting team and we got hot early,” Kucel said. “We have a lot of that can shoot it and we were knocking them down early.”
The Spartans adjusted to Gloversville’s pressure and chipped away at the Dragons’ 15-point advantage.
Bryce and Cam Bleibtry stepped up for Queensbury in the second quarter, combining for 11 of the Spartans’ 17 points in the quarter, while Bouchard had seven of Gloversville’s nine points, Jones had the other basket, to help Gloversville carry a 35-28 lead into the locker room at the break.
It didn’t take long for the Dragons to take their lead back up to double-digits as they opened the second-half with a 9-5 run to take a 44-33 lead.
Queensbury again battled back to cut the lead to eight 46-38 before Rowback hit his third 3-pointer of the game and Jones stole the ball to help Gloversville close out the quarter with a 49-38 advantage.
The Spartans again cut Gloversville’s lead to eight, 51-43, early in the fourth quarter before the Dragons dug in for a momentum-swinging surge.
“We shifted out line a little bit tonight,” Kucel said. “We are a Normally a 3-2 [zone] team and tonight we played a little more 2-3 because they are bigger than us. Our guards up top did a great job staying in front so we didn’t have to rotate so much. That was really the key to the game, was how we defended and guarded the ball.”
Deumaga started the run by grabbing a defensive rebound and hitting Rowback on a breakaway. Jones anticipated a pass at the top of the Dragons zone and raced upcourt with the ball before dropping a pass to Buck Galster for a lay-up and a 55-43 lead.
Matt Chase hit a basket for Queensbury before the Dragons forced turnovers on the next three possessions by the Spartans and added four unanswered points to build the lead to 59-45.
Deumaga added a three-point play on the Dragons final basket of the game to put the score at 62-45 as the Spartans began fouling to get possession of the ball.
Gloversville responded with a 6-for-8 effort from the free-throw line in the closing minutes to lock up their Final Four berth with the 68-56 victory.
Bouchard led Gloversville with 31 points, three assists and two steals, while Deumaga had 15 points, four assists and five rebounds and Rowback added 11 points, two defensive rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Jones added six points, seven rebounds, three steals and an assists, while Esean Brown chipped in with five defensive rebounds, four assists and a steal to go with three points.
Cam Bleibtry led Queensbury with 19 points and three assists, while Bryce Bleibtry had 18 points and eight rebounds and Chase finished with 13 rebounds to go with four points and Jeff Van Anden chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Dragons converted on nine of 15 3-point attempts in the game, while Queensbury was 7 for 28 from behind the arc and held a 34-24 edge in rebounds.
Gloversville 68, Queensbury 56
Gloversville 26 9 14 19 — 68
Queensbury 11 17 10 18 — 56
Bouchard 10-9-31, Brown 1-0-3, Deumaga 4-4-15, Galster -0-2, Rowback 4-0-11, Jones 3-0-6. Totals: 23-13-68.
Conway 2-0-5, C. Bleibtry 5-5-19, Chase 2-0-4, B. Bleibtrey 8-0-18, Edwards 1-0-2. Totals: 22-5-56.
3-point goals: Gloversville 9 (Joey Rowback 3, Julien Deumaga 3, Dante Bouchard 2, Esean Brown); Queensbury 7 (Cam Bleibtry 4, Bryce Bleibtry 2, Patrick Conway).