Railroaders Advance to Class C Quarterfinals

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By Keith Harrington

If you play well in practice a team will play well in a game. That is an adage coaches have used since the beginning of time. Whitehall boys basketball coach Keith Redmond knew after his team’s practice on Monday that they were sitting on a big effort. He was right.

The No. 8 Railroaders came storming out of the gate with an intensity that Chatham couldn’t match and held on down the stretch to defeat the No. 9 Panthers 61-56 in a Class C opening-round contest.

“We got after it pretty good yesterday and I said this is how we need to play tomorrow. My pregame speech was about the intensity early,” Redmond said. “These kids (Chatham) just rode for two hours. They don’t want to go back losers. We came out after them and it showed. That’s probably the most impeccable first quarter we’ve had all year.”

With the game tied 5-5 in the first, Whitehall ripped off seven straight points to lead 12-5 and held an 18-9 advantage at the end of the stanza.

The Panthers pulled within 20-18 early in the second quarter, but a 10-0 run fueled by 3-pointers from Enzo Rehm and Jake Whiting pushed the Railroader lead to 30-18.

Brendan Groesbeck gave Whitehall a huge lift heading into the halftime break, nailing a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot at the buzzer to make it 35-22.

“That’s deflating to kids. They’re within 10 and they think that they are in the game and now they’re down 13,” Redmond said.

Landon Stevens connected on a trey to open the third to give the Railroaders their biggest lead of the game at 38-22. However, the Panthers refused to go away. A 7-0 spurt sliced their deficit to 46-40. The Whitehall lead teetered between six and eight points for the remainder of the frame. The Railroaders led 52-44 heading to the fourth.

Whitehall scored the first four points of the final quarter to lead 56-44, but Chatham continued to chip away. A 3-pointer from Tate VanAlstyne brought the Panthers within 57-52. The Railroader struggled from the free throw line down the stretch, but Chatham couldn’t take advantage as several shots from behind the arc missed their mark.

“Them missing the threes at the end was fatigue. We were after them all night long and their shots were falling short,” Redmond explained. “That’s just a credit to our conditioning. We stress conditioning to our kids.”

Another key factor was the play of Enzo Rehm, a call-up from the junior varsity team off the bench.

“Enzo tonight as a sophomore stepped in and had some big hoops for us as a little lift for us as well. He’ll get better each game,” Redmond praised.

Redmond praised his squad for answering the bell every time Chatham threatened their lead.

“That’s the one thing we haven’t been able to do a lot this year against the better teams is be able to answer when they make runs. But we did tonight. We answered every single run,” Redmond said.

Whiting led the Railroaders with 18 points. Stevens contributed 14 and Groesbeck 10.

Jake Taylor netted a game-high 22 points for Chatham. VanAlstyne chipped in 12.

Whitehall, 14-7 advances to the Class C quarterfinals Friday at 6:30 p.m. against top-seeded Maple Hill at Hudson Valley Community College.