ULSTER PARK, N.Y. — Ellenville High senior guard Jason Kinscy has suffered the heartbreak of having his season end prematurely the last two years with losses to Red Hook in the Section 9 boys basketball playoffs.
Kinscy said he is convinced this year will be different following the Blue Devils’ 86-63 victory over Mount Academy on Friday night.
“We have eight graduating seniors this year and I’ve been playing with these kids since I was little,” he said. “We had an AAU team — the Ellenville Blue Devils. We were young. Being able to grow up with these guys, play together and build chemistry all the time. It was great.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” he added. “We just need to stick together and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
The Blue Devils (12-1) entered the game against Mount Academy as the state’s No. 6-ranked team in Class B, according to the latest New York State Sportswriters Association poll. The only other ranked Section 9 team in Class B is No. 19 Burke Catholic (13-2). Red Hook moved up to Class A this season.
Ellenville overwhelmed host Mount Academy (12-3) with its athleticism and perimeter shooting. The Blue Devils also broke the host Eagles’ press numerous times and converted many of those scoring opportunities into layups. The visitors led 28-20 at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 48-31 at the half.
After Mount Academy sharpshooter Dennis Hofer canned his third 3-pointer of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 59-46 with 3:00 left in the quarter, Kinscy completed a conventional 3-point play to cap an 8-0 run to push Ellenville’s lead to 67-46 with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter and the visitors cruised to the victory.
Ellenville coach Bryan Bonitz, who is in his 20th season as coach of the boys team, said it’s nice to be ranked sixth in the state. But he prefers to talk about how his team performs in each game.
“That’s a great number, but we don’t talk about that on our team,” Bonitz said of the high state ranking. “We just take it one game at a time.
“The Mount’s got a great team,” he added. “Super well-coached and it’s a really cool gym. They have quite a motor. I thought they were impressive. I think we shot the ball really well tonight, especially behind the arc and I think we did a good job against their pressure for the most part. Our defense wasn’t where we wanted it to be tonight. We gave up too many points. We’ll get there.”
Bonitz is hoping the large senior class he has on his roster will help in a postseason run. The school’s last sectional title came in 2018.
“They’re another year smarter and another year more mature,” Bonitz said. “They’re a little bit better together and we’re excited about that. Our goal is to improve and make a legitimate playoff run.”
The Blue Devils showed against the Mount that they have a lot of offensive weapons. Five players scored in double figures on Friday. Mathew Vanmatre scored a team-high 18 points and KJ Jackson added 17. Kinscy, who averages a team-high 21 points a game, added 16 points. Alen Ibric (13) and Duvaun Douglas (10) were also in double figures.
Mount Academy, which is currently ranked 11th in Class D, dropped its second straight game. The Eagles lost at Spackenkill 71-44 on Tuesday.
Mount Academy managed to score more points (63) this season against Ellenville than every other team with the exception of Class AAA Monroe-Woodbury, which handed the Blue Devils their lone loss (65-48) on Jan. 3. Mount Academy got a game-high 25 points from Jake Maendel, who also had eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Hofer was the only other Mount player in double figures with 18 points. He also had three steals.
Other Mount contributors were Kai Meier (eight points, five rebounds), Bruce Maendel (seven points, three rebounds, five assists, three steals) and Donovan Baird (five points, four assists, three steals).
Mount Academy has moved up its Senior Night to 5:45 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, in anticipation of possibly poor weather on Tuesday when the game was originally supposed to take place. Mount Academy has a home game against Onteora on Feb. 12 at 5:45 p.m.