McGRAW — It was a little bit of a slow start for the McGraw boys’ varsity basketball team, but a minor change sent the Eagles soaring into the Section 3 Class D Tournament quarterfinals Friday night.
Caleb Smith posted a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds while Evan Ignatowski dropped an additional 24 points during the seventh- seeded Eagles’ 84-61 first-round victory over 10th-seeded New York Mills (11-9) in front of a hometown crowd at McGraw High School.
McGraw (15-6 overall) will travel to secondseed Lyme for Tuesday night’s quarterfinal contest. Lyme (19-1) was an 82-37 winner over 15thseeded LaFargeville (7-13) Friday. Game time for Tuesday was not available at press time.
New York Mills got off to a quick start and built an 18-10 lead before McGraw closed out the first quarter with a 9-0 run and a 19-18 advantage at the end of the quarter.
“We came out a little flat,” McGraw coach Derek Allen said. “New York Mills played a 2-3 zone much of the first half and it did hold us in check. We changed our pace of play as we decided to push the ball up the court instead of walking the ball up. It began creating good offensive chances for us.”
With the momentum from the run at the end of the first quarter, the Eagles built a 12 point advantage in the second quarter, but the Marauders narrowed the deficit to 37-31 by halftime.
The third quarter saw the teams trading baskets before the McGraw transition game turned the tide for good. Smith netted eight points in the quarter, but a defensive switch from the 2-3 zone to man-to-man by New York Mills allowed Ignatowski to become very active on the offensive end of the court. Ignatowski added seven points in the third quarter after scoring just seven points in the first half. The 1-2 punch of Smith and Ignatowski allowed the Eagles to soar to a 61-42 lead as the quarter ended.
“Smith started heating up at the start of the quarter like he did in the first quarter,” Allen said. “Evan and Devon Ackley pushed the ball up quickly as we were scoring in transition. New York Mills switching to the man-to-man defense really got Evan going because the guy guarding him defensively couldn’t keep up with him. We also started rebounding better which helped us in the transition game.”
Ignatowski netted 10 points in the fourth quarter as McGraw continued to increase its advantage and advance to the next round. The Eagles scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to the Marauders’ 19 points.
Smith added five assists in the game with Ignatowski collecting four rebounds. Ackley was the third McGraw player in double figures with 12 points, plus five assists and two steals. Xiao Lin pulled down 10 rebounds for the Eagles to go with six points, two assists and two steals.
“It was nice to see the boys come together,” Allen said. “We moved the ball well as a team. No one was selfish and the guys shared the ball well.”
Logan Cooperwheat led New York Mills with 22 points. Jeff Pacini added 11 points and Antonio Diorio netted eight points for the Marauders.