Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons coach Garry Horne was hoping for a knockout punch somewhere along the line, and in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s Section II Class A championship game, his Golden Knights swung hard and connected.
“We talked about taking away any hope of them coming back,” Horne said after his team’s stunning 65-48 victory over top-seeded Albany Academy. “We achieved that.”
Bishop Gibbons never trailed in a brilliant performance, and put the Cadeds away with a 21-7 flurry to close the third quarter. It was the Knights’ first title-winning performance at the Glens Falls Civic Center since 1994.
Bishop Gibbons next plays Massena (Section X) Friday at 7 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in a regional semifinal. That winner gets the state’s second-ranked team in Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III) Saturday at 3 p.m. at HVCC.
The Colonial Council champion Cadets (19-4) came in with a No. 4 state ranking, and had swept through the brackets, including lopsided wins against Mohonasen and Lansingburgh, before Wednesday’s downfall.
“My athletic director asked me how it was going to go, and I said, ‘We’re going to win by 20,’ ” Bishop Gibbons senior forward Zach O’Brien, an all-tournament pick, said after his 16-point effort. “I was just kidding around. I thought this was going to be a real tough game.”
Avery Mitchell scored on a layup and hit a three-point basket before O’Brien’s layup gave ND-BG (No. 2 seed, 16-7) a 14-7 advantage at the end of one. The Knights were still up by seven at the half and leading by five in the third, 27-22, before putting together their game-breaking surge in which six different players scored.
“That was huge,” ND-BG junior guard Brian Hamor, the Class A MVP, said after totaling 13 points and six assists. “All year long, we got in trouble in the third quarter. Tonight, we showed how much we wanted it.”
“They had guys scoring who haven’t scored much for them before,” Albany Academy coach Brian Fruscio said. “They put together a championship run.”
Hamor had two layups during the decisive run, while O’Brien led the way with eight points. He dropped in a three after Nick Sarchioto began the spree with a short jumper, and his three-pointer and layup in the final seconds made it 48-29 with eight minutes to go. Long before that time had elapsed, Horne was clearing his bench.
“I practice with these guys every day. I believe in these guys,” said Horne. “I gave them a solid game plan, and they executed.”
“We had a little chip on our shoulder,” said O’Brien, who sat the bench as a sophomore on Christian Brothers Academy’s 2006 Class AA title team. “We wanted to prove we were the best team.”
Bishop Gibbons got it done at both ends of the court, holding the Cadets to a season low in points, and forcing many of their 25 turnovers. Chris Buskey and Sarchioto — who started on Duanesburg’s Class C runner-up team in 2007 — each had three of the Knights’ 14 steals.
“Our defense was amazing. We knew we couldn’t give up layups,” Hamor said. “When they drove we made them dish, and that was a good thing for us because they couldn’t hit outside shots.”
“They did a great job on defense. We didn’t handle their defensive pressure very well, and we had the turnovers,” said Fruscio. “Hats off to them.”
The Knights were one game away from reaching last year’s Class A
final, but were roughed up by Averill Park, 54-40.
“Because of last year, we were driven to get back here,” said O’Brien. “This is unbelievable.”
Shavar Fields had 16 points and six rebounds for Academy, and all-tournament selection Jamel Fields had 14 points before fouling out.
“We didn’t get stops early on and we got behind,” said Fruscio. “We’re built to play halfcourt offense and halfcourt defense. When we got behind we tried to pressere them, and that’s not us.”
NOTRE DAME-BISHOP GIBBONS
Dunn 0-2-2, Buskey 1-0-2, Gallagher 3-0-8, O’Brien 7-0-16, Mitchell 4-2-12, Hamor 5-2-13, Sarchioto 4-0-8, Coles 2-0-4. Totals: 26-6-65.
J. Fields 3-8-14, Foster 3-0-6, S. Fields 7-2-16, Pelcher 4-1-9, Vita 1-0-3. Totals: 18-11-48.
ND-BG 14 11 23 17 — 65
Albany Academy 7 11 11 19 — 48
Three-point goals: Gallagher 2, O’Brien 2, Mitchell 2, Hamor, Vita.