Tartans can’t afford any mistakes

Scotia-Glenville basketball coach Jim Giammattei has a list on his smartphone of the five to-dos for
Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei, left, and Joe Almond watch the Tartans run through drills at practice.
Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei, left, and Joe Almond watch the Tartans run through drills at practice.

Scotia-Glenville basketball coach Jim Giammattei has a list on his smartphone of the five to-dos for Saturday morning’s state Class A semifinal game with Spring Valley at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Defense is at the top of the list, followed by eliminating transition baskets and rebounding.

The Tartans had to do those things in recent games with Troy and Christian Brothers Academy without Mike Palleschi for long stretches after the 6-foot-6 senior ran into foul trouble. Both of those games got a little sticky with their biggest starter watching from the bench.

“Add that to the keys. That’s a huge key,” Giammattei said. “You can’t teach 6-6. We can’t afford to lose Mike, or any of our other guys.”

Scotia-Glenville (24-0) will need to be at full strength when it meets up with a Spring Valley (23-1, Section I) team led by the Iona College-bound duo of 6-2 guard Ricky McGill and 6-6 forward Kai Mitchell. McGill’s late three-pointer lifted the Tigers of Rockland County past Saugerties, 65-62, and into their first final four in 19 years.

“They’re wide. They’re big, fast and athletic,” said Giammattei. “It’s their best team in a long time. They’re everything they’re advertised to be.”

Spring Valley’s road to Glens Falls included an 88-65 win over Catholic Central when McGill led four double-digit scorers with 31 points. He notched 21 points against Saugerties, while Mitchell had nine points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

“You’ve got a fundamentally sound, well-disciplined Scotia team. In Spring Valley, you have a real competitive team with spirit and passion,” said Catholic Central coach Chuck Mack, whose Crusaders scrimmaged the Tartans as a sectional prep. “The big story will be how disciplined Scotia stays, and how Spring Valley tries to get them out of it.”

Giammattei has a good idea what Scotia-Glenville will see in its bid for another title-game berth. Scotia-Glenville beat John Glenn and then East High of Rochester at last year’s final four, providing the school with its first New York State Public High School Athletic Association title. The Tartans capped a 27-0 campaign with wins against Albany Academy and Holy Trinity at the Federation tournament.

“They want this game to be at a helter-skelter pace. They want you to put the ball on the floor so they can take it away from you,” said Giammattei, who has set a team goal of 10 turnovers or less. “We’ve got to value each possesion.”

“They want to turn it up with their defense. Force turnovers and run,” said S-G assistant Glenn Stopera, whose son, senior guard Scotty, will trigger the offense. “They’re one of the better teams in the state. It will be a good test for us.”

Spring Valley is new to the Class A field after years as a Class AA entrant, and has lost only to Mount Vernon by eight. Mount Vernon meets Shenendehowa in a Class AA semifinal Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve got to be smart and limit transition. If we get a little flustered, we’ve got to weather the storm. We know they’re going to make some plays,” said S-G scoring leader Joe Cremo. “We’ve got to keep working together and keep playing.”

Scotia-Glenville was pushed hard in two of its last three games, first by Troy in the Section II final and again by CBA in Saturday’s regional final at Colgate. The Tartans built a 20-point lead against CBA through three quarters and, after Palleschi fouled out, held off the Brothers, 62-54.

“You wouldn’t believe how hard that was. Just sitting there watching the lead go down, and there was nothing I could do,” said Palleschi, S-G’s rim protector and second-leading scorer.

Cremo stepped up against CBA and scored a career-high 39 points while going 14-for-14 from the line in the final quarter.

“So many things about that game helped us,” said Giammattei. “Being in that atmosphere. Being pushed after getting the lead, and then showing great composure at the end. That was great for us.”

“I think that game helped us with our confidence,” said Diamond Corker, who, with fellow senior Joe Almond, complete Scotia’s starting five. “Any time you win a big game, it has to help.”

Greece-Athena (Section V, 23-0) and Valley Stream South (Section VIII, 18-4) play Saturday morning at 9 in the first Class A semifinal before the S-G game at 10:45. Sunday’s title game is at 1:30.

Categories: High School Sports

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