Stopera is a natural at the point

Scotty Stopera laughs when he talks about the skirmishes he and Scotia-Glenville teammate Joe Cremo
Scotia-Glenville senior guard Scott Stopera takes a shot against Broadalbin-Perth during a Foothills Council game in February.
Scotia-Glenville senior guard Scott Stopera takes a shot against Broadalbin-Perth during a Foothills Council game in February.

Scotty Stopera laughs when he talks about the skirmishes he and Scotia-Glenville teammate Joe Cremo got involved in as youngsters.

“When we were in fourth and fifth grade at practice, my dad would put us on opposite teams because we were two of the better players,” Stopera recalled. “There were times when it would end up with us literally fighting each other. On the ground, fighting. We both wanted to win so bad.”

Stopera has done nothing but win in his three seasons as the Tartans starting point guard. Well, almost. The only glitch in the feisty senior’s 73 varsity starts was 58-53 regional loss to Bishop Ludden as a sophomore.

“To this day, I still think we were the better team. We didn’t play our best game that night. It was definitely a bad feeling, but I don’t think about it much,” said Stopera. “We told ourselves we’ve got a bunch of guys coming back, and we’re going to get back there.”

The Tartans did, and followed up a pair of regional wins with Class A New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation Tournament of Champions titles. The Tartans are halfway through another regional round, with an 80-33 win against Peru Wednesday setting up today’s 5:30 matchup with Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse at Colgate University.

“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to keep winning, but our focus is CBA,” said the 5-foot-9, 145-pound Stopera. “After that, we’ll look forward.”

Stopera will be looking for his teammates tonight, just as he has throughout his basketball career.

“Scotty epitomizes the point guard position. In a sense, it’s service before self,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei said of the two-time Foothills Council first-team all-star. “Some kids will say, ‘I’ve got to get my shot off,’ but he’s the most unselfish kid, and he’s awfully good at what he does. It’s seeing the play beforehand. He knows where the ball should go, and he’s willing to do it.”

Stopera didn’t score in the Peru game but collected 10 assists, just under his 9.4 average per game. As a junior, he averaged 7.7 assists.

“I read a tweet that said we won without Scotty,” said Cremo, who led the Tartans with 23 points against Peru. “He didn’t show up in the boxscore. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a big part of it. He’s always looking to pass first, and he made a bunch of great passes.”

“We were moving the ball great. We were finding guys for layups,” said Stopera, who is fundamentally sound but can also awe a crowd with a slick dish. “I think I was 0-for-3. I didn’t care. It was a great team effort. Great win.”

“He got everyone involved early,” said Giammattei. “Even though a three is worth more than a two, every time he found someone for a layup. It became a percentage game. It happened again and again.”

Stopera has boosted both his assist and scoring totals this season, averaging 10 points after netting 5.6 as a junior.

“There were times I felt I needed to a step up,” said Stopera. “When we were up at Amsterdam, we were in a tough game and I felt I needed to score. There were a couple of other games where I felt it was needed.”

Stopera scored 15 points in the Tartans’ second game, a 68-57 win at Amsterdam, marking the first of his 11 double-digit performances compared to three last season. Twice he’s nailed six three-pointers and totaled 20 points, the second time in a 79-43 win over Queensbury in the overall Foothills Council championship game.

“We’ve seen him shoot. We’ve seen him score,” said Giammattei. “He’s good at it. He’s good at a lot of things.”

Stopera most significant scoring contribution as a junior came in a double-overtime 77-75 win against Troy in the Section II final when his three free throws with 5.3 seconds left provided the margin of victory.

“His composure and will to win are the things that impress me,” Cremo said of his longtime friend. “He’s not going to get overmatched by bigger guys. He’s not going to get pushed around. He won’t let it happen.”

That goes for defense, too, where Stopera plays a top wing in the Tartans’ 3-2 zone.

“People want to attack me? Go ahead,” said Stopera. “I’ll fight back.”

You learn to do that when you’re the youngest in a basketball family that includes brothers Mike and Jeff, who both played for Giammattei before continuing their careers at Alfred and Sage, respectively. Stopera’s dad, Glenn, played at Fulton-Montgomery and is an assistant varsity coach at Scotia-Glenville.

“Those guys have pushed me my whole life to be the best I can be,” said Stopera. “And I’ve had Joe with me since we were in kindergarden. There were times when our competitive fire went too far and we went at it, but at the end of the day, it’s all love.”

Categories: High School Sports

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