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CHESTER’S DREAMS OF PERFECTION, TITLES DASHED BY MARLBORO

Iron Dukes Rally In Final Quarter To Win Section 9, Class B Boys Crown

By Sean McGee
Special to HVSR

NEWBURGH – The bleachers were packed, and the anticipation level was through the roof of the Mount Saint Mary College gym on Friday night.

On one side was a group of supporters that wanted to see their high school boys basketball team stay undefeated, while the other side wanted to watch their squad play spoiler.

At stake? The Section 9, Class B championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

It had all the elements and high stakes you could want, and the game lived up to it.

Trailing virtually the entire contest, Marlboro rallied late in the fourth quarter and the Iron Dukes handed Chester Academy its first loss of the season after 21 wins with a 49-42 victory.

Marlboro will play in a first-round state regional game on Wednesday against the winner of Saturday’s Section 1 championship game between Hastings and Valhalla.

The moment of another championship, the second in three seasons for the Iron Dukes, was not lost on Marlboro coach Mike Koehler.

“Both crowds were awesome, that is why playing at these venues are awesome,” the Marboro coach said. “You get a thousand people in here; the place is rocking. I told them at half, I know you can’t hear what I am saying on the floor. But kids get more amped up, and they get focused in the right way.”

It didn’t look that way early on. The Iron Dukes didn’t play badly, but they could never get over the hump. Fortunately for them, every time Chester looked like it would pull away, Marlboro would make plays to stay in the game.

In large part that was thanks to Justin Schwarzbeck.

“Justin Schwarzbeck had first half of his life,” Koehler said.
“He must have had 15 rebounds and he had all big ones. He kept us in the game by not allowing them to get a second or third shot. Then we just kept pecking away and we got it to four [points] and it went back and forth, and we just didn’t give up.”

“I think it was more of the nerves in the first half and after that we realized it was our game to win and we knew what we needed to do,” Schwarzbeck said.

 

After trailing the entire game, Marlboro would take the lead in the fourth quarter for the first time with a three-point shot by Alex Grzechowski, making the score 37-36.

“I was on the bench and I already knew it was going in because he has a weird flick (on his shot), and if he has that weird flick you know it’s going in,” said Marlboro senior CJ Faircloth. “That was the win right there, it wasn’t the clutch shots or free throws that I had or anything. It was that three right there that changed the momentum from them to us and that’s when we took off.”

A fast-break layup followed to make it 39-36 with four minutes left, and the Dukes never trailed afterward.

With 50 seconds left in the game Faircloth stepped up to the line and hit two clutch free throws to put the Dukes up five points.

“The difference today was that I didn’t think about nothing,” said Faircloth. “I just played, and I just shot, and I just let it fall though [the net].”

Faircloth would lead the team in scoring with 15 points, hitting five out of six free throws in the fourth quarter. Grzechowski added 10 points for the Dukes.

Kevin Stein would score 18 points for the Hambos, but his scoring alone wasn’t enough to keep their undefeated season alive. No other Chester player would break double figure scoring.

“We didn’t really get to where we wanted to get, but we can’t overlook the great season we had,” the senior said. “We came back from nine to 10 [points] down a couple times to go undefeated and I think we played well together. We just came up a little short when it mattered.”

“Kevin is a special kid, a very special player,” said Chester head coach Jon Marsilio. “His leadership over the past year and a half has been amazing. He’s been my voice on and off the floor and I am going to miss him dearly. There are few special players that come though, and he is definitely one of those.”

     

 

 

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