The Mechanicville boys’ basketball team earned one more game, after stirring up some more fourth-quarter magic Friday night.
Pat Marra sank both ends of a one-and-one with 10.9 seconds left, and Nick Lettrick turned in his finest postseason performance as the gritty Red Raiders edged Friends Academy, 52-51, in a state Class C semifinal game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“I don’t want my senior year to end,” said Marra, whose’s only second-half points came from the line, making it 52-49 after Friends had sliced a 48-38 deficit to one. “It know it’s going to end one way or another, and I hope it’s with us walking off as state champions.”
Mechanicville (21-5) has never won a state title, and got its third opportunity to do so when star Friends guard Jon Williams missed a three-point shot as time expired. Williams’ two free throws with eight seconds left pulled the Quakers (Section VIII, 11-11) within 52-51, and after Marra missed the front end of a one-and-one, Williams let loose at the other end from the top of the circle.
“When he [Marra] missed that free throw, I knew we had to make a basket,” said Williams, who totaled 15 of his 23 points in the first half. “I wanted it to go.”
“I was thinking, ‘God, please don’t let that shot fall,’” said Marra, the Section II Class CC MVP,
after his eight-point, seven-assist effort. “Luckily, it wasn’t even close. [Josh] Rougia and Gags [Josh Gagliastri] put great pressure on the shooter.”
Lettrick was Mechanicville’s top gun, scoring 10 of his 19 points over the final two quarters while also taking down a team-high eight rebounds. Paul MacMillan added 12 points — eight in the second half — in the Red Raiders’ fifth playoff game decided in the fourth quarter.
“Instead of breaking down, we pull together,” Lettrick, a 6-foot junior center, said of the Red Raiders’ ability to come through with clutch points and stiff defense late in games. “We keep pressuring the other team and keep playing.”
Mechanicville has won those five playoff games by a total of 16 points, with a 57-36 regional victory over Ticonderoga also part of its best postseason run since 2001. Mechanicville lost in the title game that year to Buffalo Traditional. The Red Raidiers lost the Class C final to Buffalo Traditional in 1996.
“The kids played their hearts out again. This is a great win for us,” said veteran Mechanicville coach Joe Loudis. “These boys should be complimented.”
Just 6-16 a year ago, Mechanicville will take on Maple Grove in tonight’s 7:15 state championship game. Maple Grove (Section VI, 24-2) rallied in the fourth quarter to upend West Canada Valley (Section III, 25-1), the state’s
No. 1-ranked team, 64-59, in the first semifinal.
“It’s amazing. I can’t even believe it myself,” said Loudis. “I figured we’d win 12 games, and here we are playing for the state championship.
“The kids know how to win now,” Section II’s active victory leader with 422 added. “Last year, they played not to lose.”
A layup and three-pointer by MacMillan, and a layup by Lettrick, gave Mechanicville its 48-38 fourth-quarter lead. After Harrison Hefele nailed a three for the Quakers of Nassau County, Lerrick scored down low to make it 50-41 with 3:30 to go.
Friends, the 2007 state runner-up, then produced eight unanswered points to get within 50-49. Williams started the spurt with a three-point hoop and Ramir Robinson ended it on two from the line with 58 seconds left, setting the stage for Marra’s game-winning points.
“We were stuck on 50 for a while there, but we hung in there,” said Loudis.
Loudis wanted a quick foul after Marra’s two foul shots made it a three-point contest, and Gagliastri quickly sent Williams to the line.
“We were going to foul, and it worked out to our advantage,” Loudis said. “We didn’t want to give up a three. Kids shoot too well these day.”
Mechanicville led late in the first quarter, 21-12, after Sean Stewart’s layup, and was still up by nine early in the second frame, 23-14, following a putback by MacMillan. Friends responded with a 15-5 push to take its first lead, with Williams netting the last seven, including two foul shots to make it 29-28 at the 1:21 mark.
Lerrick’s layup gave the Red Raiders a 30-29 halftime advantage, and the junior contributed six third-quarter points as Mechanicville went up, 41-38.
“When he scores, we’re usually in pretty good shape,” Marra said of Lettrick, who made eight of 11 shots from the field. “He played great today.”
Rougia turned two quick steals in a layup and a slam dunk in a 9-2 surge to open the contest.
Nattis 1-0-3, Reggio 1-0-2, Williams 7-8-23, H. Hefele 3-3-11, Robinson 5-2-12. Totals: 17-13-51.
Rougia 3-0-7, MacMillan 5-0-12, Marra 2-2-8, Stewart 2-0-4, Gagliastri 1-0-2, Lettrick 8-3-19. Totals: 21-5-52.
Friends Academy 14 15 9 13 — 51
Mechanicville 21 9 11 11— 52
Three-point goals: Nattis, Williams, H. Hefele 2, Rougia, MacMillan 2, Marra 2.
Hoosic Valley 53, Nazareth Academy 43
TROY — Kayla Ryan scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second half to lead Hoosic Valley to a victory over Nazareth Academy of Section V in the Class B semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Indians (27-0) will play Briarcliff of Section I in the state championship game today at 4. Briarcliff advanced with a 37-33 victory over Seton Catholic (Section IV).
Hoosic Valley forced Nazareth Academy into 24 turnovers, and the Lasers (22-3) shot just 18-for-57 from the floor.
Gavin 0-1-1, Cleary 2-0-4, Santos 2-0-5, Morrell 4-0-8, Jones 3-0-6, Coates 2-0-4, D’Ercole 4-0-12, Green 1-0-3. 18-1-43.
Kilmartin 0-1-1, Ryan 6-7-19, Anderson 2-3-7, Barton 1-7-9, Houston 6-1-14, Culver 1-0-3. Totals: 16-19-53.
Nazareth Academy 10 5 7 21 — 43
Hoosic Valley 12 9 13 19 — 53
Three-point goals: Santos, D’Ercole 4, Green, Houston, Culver.