Blauner outscores New Paltz, Ardsley reaches state final four

In scouting New Paltz entering Friday’s NYSPHSAA Regional Final, Ardsley coach Sean Cappiello identified two areas he felt his team could exploit: the athleticism of Zeke Blauner and the effectiveness of their zone.

Blauner had the game of his season.

New Paltz didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter.

And Ardsley is headed to the state final four.

The magical postseason for the Panthers continues with another runaway effort in a state regional. Blauner outscored Section 9 champion New Paltz on his own, dropping 32 in Ardsley’s 47-31 victory in the Class A Regional Final at SUNY New Paltz.

“Zeke is an amazing player who just keeps getting better,” Cappiello said. “We thought on film they would have trouble with his speed so we ran a lot of stuff for him and encouraged him to get out in transition. We never thought he would he would do what he did. But nothing about him or this team surprises me any more.”

Blauner scored 12 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as Ardsley busted what was a 35-31 lead after three quarters.

“They were pretty physical with Zeke last night and he still just powered through,” Cappiello said. “And I think our guys did a great job of finding him.”

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Ardsley’s defense stifled New Paltz all night, not just in the scoreless fourth. Danny Hewitt and Julian McGarvey sat in the bottom of the zone and controlled the interior, blocking and altering shots consistently and limiting New Paltz’s second chances.

“We felt if we kept working and making them make extra passes for shots we could slow them down,” Cappiello said. “Defense is really where we hang our hat and when our focus shifted to that end of the court is when things started to really change for us.”

Ardsley next plays in the NYSPHSAA Class A Final Four in Binghamton next Saturday (March 17) against either Mohonasen of Section 2 or Utica Notre Dame of Section 3. Those teams meet in their regional final on Saturday in Troy at 5 p.m.

The state semifinal game will be at 10:45 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. The state final is March 18 in the same arena.

Photo credit: @ArdsleyPanthers

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