By Collin Bolbruch
A loss is a loss, but this loss was exciting.
As the season comes to a close, Plattsburgh (2-22) lost Friday night on the road to the New Paltz Hawks (14-9) by a score of 85-89.
After setting a career high in points last week against Potsdam, Kevin Tabb topped it again. Tabb scored 27 points as well as five assists and two three-pointers. Marlon Todd found his shot with three three-pointers for a total of 11 points, and Erik Salo was a force in the paint with 16 rebounds on top of 16 points. Other top scorers included Kyle Cary with 13 points and Franklin Infante with 12.
For New Paltz, Isaiah Bien-Aise led the team with 22 points while also adding nine rebounds and Sean St. Lucia scored 21 points with 11 rebounds. Solomon Neuhaus scored 14 points with three three-pointers and Tyreik Frazier had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
New Paltz shot just over 23 three-pointers a game going into this matchup, and Plattsburgh looked to shut it down. Plattsburgh’s Sheriff Conteh said,
“Coach’s game plan was to spot the shooters and stuff like that , and I feel like we did a good job doing it on the defense. We limited them to certain shots…”
Plattsburgh had an impressive first half, holding a lead for all but 1:40 of the clock. Much of its scoring came from the fastbreak and quick buckets. Todd commented,
“We executed, we played defense, and we just happened to get the steals and score.” PSU ended the game with 18 fastbreak points to New Paltz’s 10.
Despite going into the second half down three, the trend continued for Plattsburgh. It got the lead back with 16:25 left to go in the half, and were up six at one point.
The game was being played inside. At the end of the game, Plattsburgh had racked up 40 points in the paint to New Paltz’s 50, and the rebound count was 31-30 in New Paltz’s favor. New Paltz had multiple dunks and even an alley-oop.
With 8:15 left in the game, the Cardinals lost the lead and never got it back. Plattsburgh’s missed shots on top of New Paltz free throws lost them the game at the end, coming down to foul shots. Todd said of the finish,
“I think the biggest struggle is maturity. We just have to play together, and down the stretch we just have to be more unified and just focus on that goal.”
Plattsburgh has struggled all season closing games out, and Friday wasn’t an exception. Conteh said,
“I don’t think anything really went wrong, like dramatically. I just feel like we made a couple errors I feel like we could have fixed down the stretch. I just feel like we could have played harder.”
Plattsburgh plays its last game of the season on Saturday against Oneonta (16-8), who it lost to earlier in the year 82-88.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all NCAA Division 3 athletes are given the opportunity to return for an extra season. The Cardinals’ seniors are split on whether or not they’ll decide to come back for another go.
Sheriff Conteh knows his answer. He’s plenty excited to give his all again for next year’s team. Before he does that, he looks back on what he learned from such a hard year.
“Since it was a tough season, I just learned to persevere through anything. Just to uplift my teammates, even when we’re doing bad. Just to stick together, trust one another.”
While they all might not have spent their whole college career at Plattsburgh, they will always remember their time at the school. Kyle Cary will not be using his fifth-year option. Cary has spent just a season with the Cardinals.
“It was an experience, for sure. It was fun, obviously didn’t have the best season, but I was around a lot of good people so it was a lot of fun and enjoyment.”
For Marlon Todd, he is unsure what the future holds. Todd is the only current player to have spent the last four years with the team. Whether he returns to the team or not, he’s feeling some emotions right now.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet moment, just thinking about all the games we’ve had, thinking about losing a year ‘cause of COVID. It’s definitely going to be a big transition, I’m still thinking about whether or not I’m going to play my fifth year, but right now it’s definitely a bittersweet moment.”
No matter who makes up the Cardinals’ team next year, everyone is hoping to see improvement.