GLENS FALLS -- Early in the third quarter, Martin Luther King of Hastings-on-Hudson was forced to call a timeout when guard Chris Sanchez was hurt.
The timeout ended up being a good thing.
Martin Luther King came out of the timeout and went on a 13-point run in the span of about two minutes, taking a 43-35 lead. The Tigers went on to beat University Prep of Rochester, 56-53, in a Class D semifinal of the State Boys Basketball Tournament.
“I told just them to relax,” head coach Scott Green said of the timeout. “Just play basketball, just play defense.”
UPrep had been having success from beyond the arc and the Tigers forced them inside after that timeout as well as creating a number of turnovers.
Guard Peter Hargrove, who scored 21 points, said Green told them to attack the basket and that’s what they did.
“ ‘Play how you play your game. Don’t be scared, no nervousness, just play your game,’ ” Hargrove said the coach told them.
Rajien Griffin, who had 11 points in the game, started the run off with a 3-pointer. Peter Hargrove then added a jumper and then a putback after Dashawn Johnson hit the first of two free throws. Hargrove hit a 3-pointer and a layup for nine points of the 13-point run.
“I was just feeling it today,” Hargrove said. “The last two games were bad for me. I picked it up and scored big for the team. I don’t know, just execute.
“We weren’t playing with our heads, we had to just play with our heads.”
Hargrove stressed the execution; he said that was the key for the Tigers. They hadn’t been playing their game until that point and then they took off. Martin Luther King outscored UPrep 26-13 in the third quarter.
UPrep, a young team of sophomores, freshmen and eighth graders, wasn’t ready to give up that easily, though. They have battled back from deficits throughout the season.
“They’ve been in that position before,” UPrep head coach Raheem Miller said. “I knew they could come back. I’m just sad that we came up short.”
Eighth grader Marique Simkin, who scored 10 points, hit a 3-pointer with about a minute left to tie the game 53-53. Martin Luther King followed that with two free throws from Sanchez but couldn’t put it away.
Brandon Hunt missed a 3-pointer for UPrep and Martin Luther King’s Justin Gales grabbed the rebound but was immediately called for traveling, giving UPrep another chance with 24 seconds left.
A sloppy pass led to a UPrep turnover and then a foul that sent Jermaine Shaw to the line for Martin Luther King. He hit one of two and UPrep had 17 seconds left to try for a 3-pointer to tie it.
Cameron Myles, who totaled 19 points in the game, threw up a shot as time expired, but it clanked off the rim and UPrep’s chance at a state title in it’s first year as a varsity team went with it.
Martin Luther King maintained confidence in its chances. That they had already come from behind gave them a feeling that they could hold on, Hargrove said.
“I had the confidence in my team but I knew it wasn’t over yet until I heard the buzzer,” Griffin added.
That buzzer sounded and sent the Tigers on their way to take on Argyle in the Class D state final on Saturday.