Thursday, March 2, 2017

Championship Week - The tournament so far, and Day #4 Preview:

We're halfway through Championship Week.

Four of this weekend's Championships are set, with the fifth being decided tonight.  Most of the games have been close, but the ones that didn't end close had a case where the other team had a chance for a good portion of the game.

First, the results from the first 8 games:

Class D Semifinals
Fort Ann 56, St. Johnsville 42 | Recap
Argyle 75, Northville 65 | Recap

Class B Semifinals
Mekeel Christian Academy 55, Voorheesville 51 | Recap
Glens Falls 77, Ichabod Crane 55 | Recap

Class A Semifinals
Averill Park 51, Scotia 40 | Recap
Lansingburgh 55, Mohonasen 50 | Recap

Class AA Semifinals
Bethlehem 64, LaSalle 58 | Recap
Colonie 72, Schenectady 61 | Recap

That makes the championships as follows:
(all games at the Glens Falls Civic Center)
Class D Championship - Fort Ann vs. Argyle - Friday, 6PM
Class B Championship - Glens Falls vs. Mekeel Christian Academy - Friday, 7:45PM
Class A Championship - Lansingburgh vs. Averill Park - Saturday, 4PM
Class AA Championship - Colonie vs. Bethlehem - Saturday, 8PM

The Class C Championship is Saturday, 2PM.  The two opponents for that game will be decided tonight as Maple Hill, the Cinderella story of the Class C tournament play the #2 seeded Stillwater Warriors in the early game.  The nightcap features an Adirondack League rematch as the newest team in the league, the top-seeded Granville Golden Horde, take on the Lake George Warriors.

Maple Hill Wildcats vs. Stillwater Warriors - 6PM
Maple Hill: March Madness is about being hot at the right time.  A cold December and January doesn't matter when your team's hot in February and March.  And that summarizes the story with the Wildcats, who come to the Glens Falls Civic Center as the highest seeded team of any of the 20 teams that come this week.  At #14, the Wildcats were at home in their outbracket game against Greenwich, but had to go on the road to face a Greenville squad they lost to twice earlier in the season.  Then a neutral-site game against a battle-tested Mechanicville set them up for tonight.

On paper, the thought would be to contain the team's leading scorer, Austin Decker.  But in two of the three tournament games, Decker has scored below his average, scoring 7 points against Greenwich and 11 in the quarterfinals against Mechanicville.  Nate Minnion scored a season-high 17 points instead against Greenwich, and team's second-leading scorer Garrett Axtmann contributed against Mechanicville.

The defense will get a test against Stillwater that they haven't seen in the first three tournament games.  Allowing an average of 48 points in the tournament, the Wildcats have not needed an offensive explosion to be successful.

Stillwater: Jared D'Aloia is going to be the player to watch for the team from the Wasaren League.  The tournament's #2 seed comes to Glens Falls off a 65-50 win over Duanesburg where D'Aloi scored 22 points.  But containing him will be tough, and focusing on him will lead to trouble if secondary scorer Zack Travis is left alone.  He scored 16 against Duanesburg, and has compiled 8 games where the senior has scored 20 or more points.

The Warriors last loss, to Hoosic Valley, was a game where Stillwater entered the 4th quarter with the lead before the Indians outscored the Warriors 24-8.  Even in that game, D'Aloia and Travis produced to their averages, which will make them tough threats to watch out on the court.

Stillwater cannot look at Maple Hill's record and seeding.  Nor can they let the bigger atmosphere of playing at the Glens Falls Civic Center affect their style of play.  Already this week we've seen the higher-seeded teams have soft starts, only to explode in the 3rd and 4th quarters.  And if Stillwater wants to have a decent shot at winning the sectional title on Saturday, they may need to play a full four quarter game.

Lake George Warriors vs. Granville Golden Horde - 7:30PM
Lake George: The Lake George Warriors won the latest chapter against the new team in the Adirondack League before falling to Fort Ann in the league championship.  A quick look at the Warriors show no player with 20 points per game, but there's a good reason for it.

They have three threats on the court who can score.  Caleb Scrime has 9 games with 20 or more points this season, including a 20 point effort in the 1st round of the Class C playoffs against Cambridge.  Against Schoharie, he scored 15 points, but it was a team effort as teammate and 3rd scorer on the team, Mason Flatley scored 16 points in the win.  Flatley has three 20 point games this season, the latest being a 21 point game against Hadley-Luzurne last month.  The two are joined by Alex Jones, who himself has three 20 point games this season as well.

Containing one top scorer can be easy.  But three will be a difficult case for opponents to solve.

Granville: If Granville has something going from them from the start, it's that they have defeated the Warriors twice already this season.  And the Golden Horde have the best offense in Class C, and the 7th overall in Section 2.

Matthew Fuller is a big reason why.  Just under 20 points per game, the team's leading scorer and 3 point shooter has helped fuel the Golden Horde all season.  But Lake George is his Kyrptonite, being held to only 29 points in three meetings this year.  The senior will need to figure out how to overcome the Lake George defense tonight.

Fuller isn't the only player responsible for Granville having the 7th best offense in Section 2.  There's three other players who average above 10 points per game.  Trace Bourne and Morgan Williams are threats behind the arch, and Matthew Parker has a deadly inside game.  It will require a team-wide defense to slow the Golden Horde down, but it is something Lake George has shown they are capable of.

It should be a fun 4th match between these two teams, especially since there's more on the line here than there has been in their first three meetings.  A trip to the Sectional Championship.

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