One Out of Three
pblackwell, Sat, March 21st, 2009
As with 2008, a trio of talented, ambitious Section III boys basketball teams rode the magic carpet into the Glens Falls Civic Center for the state final four.
And just like '08, only Jamesville-DeWitt made it through the semifinal round with the dream of a state championship alive.
Yet even that proved to be a mighty struggle, as the Red Rams had to grind, sweat and plod through Saturday's semifinal win over Batavia.
The final score read J-D 40, Bataiva 32. Really. For the Red Rams, 40 points is usually a good half of work. J-D, in fact, topped 90 in both parts of the regional playoffs.
Clearly, the Blue Devils believed that the only way it could possibly make J-D sweat was by slowing....the.....game.....down. A lot of teams say they'll do that against the Red Rams, and never get close. Batavia followed through.
All J-D got in the first quarter was five points, so it had to resort to its own defense to generate something - and it worked during a frantic second quarter, as the Rams went out in front 20-13.
Still, Batavia dictated the page, forcing J-D into something close to lethargy and trailing by just two, 32-30, with less than three minutes left.
The Blue Devils couldn't pull even, though, and J-D used free throws to get away as Brandon Triche, with 17 points, was the only player to reach double figures.
Ugly or pretty, J-D's quest to repeat is still alive and will climax tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the finals against Peekskill, out to reclaim its throne after beating East Hampton 55-48 in the other semifinal.
CBA knew exactly what kind of challenge it faced in the Class AA semifinal against Niagara Falls, a regular visitor to Glens Falls. However, the Wolverines used its speed and pressure to come out on top, 59-49.
Other than a 5-0 start, CBA would never have any kind of lead. Falls responded to the Brothers' initial spurt by going on an 18-4 run, and the Brothers spent the rest of the afternoon in a futile chase.
CBA never spent a single moment doing anything that wasn't seriously contested. Over time, that wore down the Brothers, who trailed by 10 at the break (33-23) and never got closer than five throughout the second half.
Stefan Thompson still got 18 points, and Mike Goodman produced 15 rebounds to go with seven points, but they didn't get a lot of help, and Niagara Falls proved to be deeper and quicker.
On the other end, Kelvin Agee (20 points) and Devon Marshall (18 points) led the way as Niagara Falls advanced to face Newburgh Free Academy in Sunday's finals.
Onondaga was the surprise entrant in the state final four, and for a while Friday night, the Tigers looked like it could continue its remarkable journey in the Class C semifinal against Maple Hill.
At one point in the second quarter, the Tigers led by as much as 11, 27-16. But then Taylor Bassett and Brad Emerson both went to the bench with two fouls, and Maple Hill took over with a 12-0 run to close the half and grab the lead for good.
OCS hung around in the third quarter, as Emerson, Bassett (11 points each) and Ted Zabel (10 points) all reached double figures.
However, Jamie Schultz, with 32 points, helped Maple Hill pull clear, and much of the 77-51 final margin got built in the fourth quarter, when in reality the game was much closer.
So OCS and CBA come home with fond memories of the great run they both made. The Tigers rose from 11-9 in the regular season to just two wins away from a state title, and the Brothers participated in some of the best Section III games in recent memory, especially the end of J-D's 38-game win streak and that sectional final comeback against Henninger.
For J-D, though, it could prove even better if it can get one more win tomorrow afternoon in Glens Falls...