Ballston Spa, Miller stomp Hudson Falls to stay unbeaten


HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Ballston Spa boys basketball team has been one of the great breakout stories in Section II so far this season. A six-seed in last year’s Class AA playoff tournament, the Scotties entered the day 7-0 on the young season, and ranked 25th in the state, per the New York State Sportswriters Association.

Head coach Ben Eldridge’s squad traveled to another unbeaten Friday night: Class A Hudson Falls. The Tigers have already taken down two AA programs in Albany and Shaker, en route to a 5-0 record. But they wouldn’t make it three, as the Scotties used an efficient shooting night that included a 32-point effort from senior Michael Benjamin Miller to cruise to a 92-56 win.

Ballston Spa came out as the aggressor, getting right into the paint on offense, and jumping passing lines on the defensive end. Both tendencies were on display on a play in the first quarter when senior Benjamin Phillips deflected a pass intended for Hudson Falls’ Peyton Smith; Scotties’ junior Blaine Zoller collected the loose ball, and fired it ahead to senior Nicholas Verdile for an easy layup that put Ballston Spa ahead 8-2 nearly three minutes into action.

The Tigers would settle in a bit from there, and it was the result of Smith, the team’s captain, starting to find a rhythm. He converted on an off-hand turnaround in the lane with just over a minute remaining in the opening frame to cut the deficit the three. Hudson Falls trailed by just two points at the end of one with the score at 19-17.

Ballston Spa’s offensive caught fire in the second frame, though. They went on a 13-1 extended run to start the quarter, punctuated by a wing three-pointer from Miller at the six-minute mark to give his team a 32-18 edge. That lead would only grow throughout the quarter. With 2:01 to play before halftime, Miller followed up a missed shot from Phillips with a tip-in, extending the Scotties’ advantage to 16 at 44-28.

Ballston Spa’s dominant showing could be summed in one play that occurred with time winding down in the second stanza. The Tigers doled out back-to-back fouls with under five seconds remaining, as the Scotties were nowhere near the bonus. Then, with less than two ticks on the clock, sophomore James Haughton took an inbound from Gregory Kaatz, Hudson Falls chose not to foul, and Haughton sunk a 25-footer to cap a 35-point quarter, and Spa took a 54-33 advantage into the locker room.

There would be no let up in the second half, as the Scotties dropped another 38 points en route to the 92-56 victory. Miller’s game-high 32 points were followed up by a 24-point effort from Verdile. Smith did all he could do to keep the Tigers in the game, scoring a team-best 25.

Ballston Spa (8-0) will enjoy a week-long break before returning to action next Friday on the road against Troy. A 7:00 p.m. tip is scheduled against the Flying Horses. Hudson Falls (5-1) will aim to get back into the win column Tuesday when it welcomes in Burnt Hills for a 7:00 p.m. tilt with the Spartans.

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