GLOVERSVILLE - After posting back-to-back league victories, the Gloversville Dragons were looking to move up in the Foothills Council standings when they hosted South Glens Falls Thursday night.
The Bulldogs came in tied with Glens Falls for second with 5-2 records, while the Dragons were tied with Queensbury for fourth with 4-3 records. All four trailed league-leading and undefeated Scotia-Glenville (7-0).
Despite a strong late-game rally and a 28-point performance from junior Asa Barnhill, the Dragons came up short, as the Bulldogs held on and escaped with a 59-56 victory.
Gloversville’s Asa Barnhill (3) drives to the hoop against South Glens Falls’ Joshua Hay, left, and Justin Ducey during the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Foothills Council game at Gloversville High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
"This was a chance for us to separate ourselves from a portion of the pack," Gloversville coach Mark LeFever said. "We will continue to have opportunities. We will play Glens Falls and Queensbury again and finish the regular season with South High."
The win keeps the Bulldogs (6-2) tied for second with Glens Falls, while the Dragons (4-4) remain tied for fourth with Queensbury. Glens Falls (6-2) defeated Johnstown (1-7), 79-58 Thursday, while Queensbury (4-4) fell to Scotia-Glenville (8-0), 76-53. In Thursday's other Foothills Council game, Broadalbin-Perth (3-5) edged Hudson Falls (0-8), 43-42.
Gloversville sprinted out to a 7-0 lead with a 3-pointer from Kevin Johnston and baskets by Barceem Dukes and Barnhill.
The Bulldogs answered back from long distance as Travis Ramsey hit a pair of 3- pointers and a long field goal and Rick Buser hit from behind the arc to put South High up 15-12 at the end of the opening period.
The teams exchanged baskets early in the second period before the Dragons defense forced South High into a shot-clock violation.
From there, with Barnhill leading the way with five points, Gloversville outscored South High 7-3 to take a 25-24 lead into the locker room at the half.
South High again stepped back behind the 3-point line to gain an advantage in the third quarter.
Luke VanDixhorn hit for a pair of 3-pointers, while Ramsey and Buser also hit treys to help South High outscore Gloversville 21-14 in the period and take a six-point lead, 45-39, into the final period.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start, driving to the basket to extend their lead from six to 12, 53-41, with 5:35 left to play.
After a basket by Keyshawn Arnold and a pair of free-throws from Barnhill to cut the lead to eight, the Dragons switched to a zone defense.
The move slowed the Bulldogs enough and Gloversville responded offensively with Barnhill hitting seven of the Dragons' next 11 points to pull his team to within a point, 57-56 with 1:26 to play.
Six-foot-five senior Josh Hay stepped up his game for South High in the closing minutes, hitting a lay-up to put the score at 59-56 and pulling down a pair of defensive rebounds on missed 3-point attempts by the Dragons.
Gloversville got one last opportunity to tie the game with three seconds remaining.
Inbounding the ball in front of the Dragons' bench, Barnhill fired a pass to Johnston, who had the ball knocked out of bounds, giving Gloversville another chance with two seconds left.
Using Barnhill as a decoy, Arnold inbounded the ball to Johnston, who put up a 3-point attempt that narrowly missed its mark as time expired, giving South High the 59-56 victory.
"They shot extremely well tonight, played a complete game and knocked down several key threes," LeFever said of the Bulldogs. "Every team seems to play their best when they come here. We keep finding ourselves digging out of a hole. We just need to play four consistent quarters both offensively and defensively."
Justin Ducey led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures with 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds. VanDixhorn added 15 points, while Buser had 14 and Ramsey 11.
Barnhill led all scorers with his 28-point performance that included three 3-pointers. Arnold finished with eight points, while Dukes finished with six points and five rebounds. Hunter Goodwin contributed five second-half rebounds to go with four points and Johnston added three assists and three points.
"Ace is starting to get into a groove. He has been extremely effective this year getting to the basket," LeFever said. "Now he is starting to be more comfortable and feels better about his jumper. You put those two together and he is a tough guy to defend. He is going to make us better down the stretch with his confidence and energy."
Gloversville (5-5 overall, 4-4 league) will have little time to recover as it hosts Averill Park (3-7 overall, 2-7 Suburban Council) of the Suburban Council Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Warriors edged Gloversville 50-44 in the season-opener for both teams on Dec. 4.
"We lost a couple of tough games at home to Queensbury and South Glens Falls. But the kids are resilient and I think they will bounce back," LeFever said. "There is not much time between now and our game against Averill Park. That game is huge. I think it is important for us not only to play well but to win. Come sectional time, it could prove to be a difference in seeds."
South Glens Falls 59, Gloversville 56
South Glens Falls15 9 21 14 - 59
Gloversville12 13 14 17 - 56
South Glens Falls
Buser 5-2-14, Ramsey 4-0-11, Hay 1-1-3, Ducey 7-2-16, Anastasia 0-0-0, VanDixhorn 5-3-15. Totals 22-8-59.
Brown 0-2-2, Barnhill 11-3-28, Dukes 3-0-6, Smith 2-0-5, Johnston 1-0-3, Goodwin 2-0-4, K. Arnold 4-0-8. Totals 23-5-56.
3-point goals: South Glens Falls 7 (Buser 2, Ramsey 3, VanDixhorn 2); Gloversville 5 (Barnhill 3, Smith, Johnston).