The Glens Falls Trio
pblackwell, Sun, March 15th, 2009
At this exact moment, 20 boys basketball teams are making their plans to be part of the festival in Glens Falls known as the state final four.
Three of them come from the Section III ranks. One expected to be there all along. Another proved itself in a continuous series of clutch situations against big-named foes. And the last could not have imagined still being alive a month ago.
First, the heavy favorites. Jamesville-DeWitt toyed with Malone Franklin, then turned its vast talents toward Scotia Glenville in the Class A regional final Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
Scotia tried a zone defense. And Alshwan Hymes made sure the Tartans paid for it, to the tune of eight 3-pointers and 32 points overall, a new career high. Oh yeah, and Brandon Triche dumped in 28 for good measure. The getaway came in a 14-0 run in the last three minutes of the second quarter, and it ended 90-61 in the Red Rams' favor.
On Saturday mornning at Glens Falls, J-D faces Batavia, from Section V. Lurking in the other half is East Hampton, whom J-D beat in the 2008 finals, and someone called Peekskill. Another J-D-Peekskill showdown sounds tasty.
If J-D roared to its final four berth, CBA sweated it out - no, make that Syracuse CBA. That city designation will become obvious in a moment.
The Brothers ripped Massena 78-42, laying silly Massena coach Tom Miller's master plan to move up from Class A to AA to avoid J-D. Then came the regional final against....Albany CBA, another band of Brothers with state title ambitions.
They would go back and forth Saturday at CNS. Albany CBA got the quick start. Syracuse CBA closed up the deficit and went up in the third quarter, only to have Albany CBA go back in front - and pin Stefan Thompson with four fouls early in the fourth quarter.
Buddy Wleklinski kept Thompson in there, though. And with the score tied 45-45 and less than 20 seconds on the clock, Thompson got free on a screen - and drained an 18-foot jumper. one Pat Wiese steal later and two Wiese free throws later, Syracuse CBA was Glens Falls-bound, winning 50-45.
Six years after Greg Paulus led the Brothers to the final four, CBA returns..and mighty Niagara Falls awaits Saturday afternoon. Given that Newburgh Free Academy and Uniondale are the other entries, CBA can believe that beating Falls could mean the big prize. Hey, the Brothers beat J-D. Anything after that is manageable.
When these playoffs started in mid-February, the notion of Onondaga in Glens Falls was a good fantasy, but not realistic by any means. Given that the Tigers were 11-9 and the no. 9 seed in Class C-2, just one playoff win would be nice.
Well now look. Five playoff wins and a sectional title later, OCS went to SUNY-Cortland Saturday to meet Section IV champion Oxford and came up big again, winning 44-37.
Much like it did in the sectional final against LaFayette, the Tigers started fast, using three 3-pointers in a minute to go ahead 15-8.
Only up by one, 23-22, at the break, OCS reclaimed its margin with Zach Holbrook getting eight of his 15 points in the third quarter. Though Oxford got close again, 38-36, OCS used six Tyler Bassett free throws to secure its Glens Falls ticket.
Holbrook, Bassett, Ted Zabel, Chris Cota - OCS is a tough crew, and making the state semifinals is amazing enough. But maybe the Tigers have more miracles in them as they go up against favored Maple Hill (Section II) Friday at 5 p.m., the winner to get Oyster Bay or Avon in the Saturday finals.
The other two regional finals had different results. At OCC, Hannibal led Binghamton Seton Catholic 24-22 at the half of the Class B regional, but went ice-cold in the second half, allowing Seton to prevail 64-51. In Ken Sturges' last game at the coaching helm, a key was the fact that Jeff LaMont never made a field goal.
Meanwhile, at Hartwick College, New York Mills put up a great battle agaisnt unbeaten South Kortright in the Class D regional, but the Marauders lost a 56-45 decision.
Thus, just like 2008, when J-D, West Canada Valley and Sackets Harbor all made it this far, Section III brings three determined entries to the Glens Falls Civic Center. For all of them, ultimate glory is within reach.