A season of goodbyes

It wasn’t a last-second goal or a clutch basket. Neither was it a stirring team comeback, a record-s
Saratoga Springs winning its second straight Section II Division I hockey title — its sixth in seven years — and return to the state final four was one of the top stories of the winter sports season.
Saratoga Springs winning its second straight Section II Division I hockey title — its sixth in seven years — and return to the state final four was one of the top stories of the winter sports season.

It wasn’t a last-second goal or a clutch basket. Neither was it a stirring team comeback, a record-setting run or a milestone performance.

Heck, it didn’t even take place on a court, in a swimming pool or on a wrestling mat. No, the top local sports story of the winter season played out in a meeting of the New York State Public High School Athletic Associations’s Executive Committee — and it sent a shock wave through Glens Falls and the rest of the Capital Region.

It was on that December morning that the state boys’ basketball semifinals and championships would be leaving the Glens Falls Civic Center for downtown Binghamton after a 36-year run there.

Troy was the last Section II team to compete in the NYSPHSAA final four on March 13, when it lost in Class A title game to Elmont. The day before, 2015 champ Shenendehowa lost in a Class AA semifinal, and the day before that, Hudson’s first appearance on that stage ended with a Class B semifinal setback.

In the previous three seasons, Section II had accumulated nine state championships, two by Scotia-Glenville and two by Lake George.

The Executive Committee voted 14-8 in favor of Binghamton’s Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena as the tournament host for the 2017-19 seasons, after bids were submitted, thrown out when questions arose on whether the bidding process was proper, and bids were submitted once again.

Glens Falls’ hosting run was the longest for any state championship sport.

“It’s an example where history is cast to the wayside for the almighty dollar,” Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei said the day the vote was announced. “It’s so disheartening. There’s so much history in that building. It’s the mecca. It’s like the old Boston Garden.”

High-level postseason basketball will still be played at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the next few years, between Section II playoff games and the return of the Federation Tournament of Champions, which left Glens Falls after 2010. Albany’s six-year run as host the Federation event concluded last weekend, and Albany Academy made history by becoming the Capital Region’s first two-time champion.

Here in no particular order are some of the other stories we’ll remember from the 2015-16 winter season:


Section II made its mark at the first New York State Public High School Athletic Association Cheerleading Championships, with Scotia-Glenville placing third in its division and Guilderland and Mohonasen both taking fifth.

Guilderland’s co-ed team included Marquis Chisom, a star football lineman who in the fall was selected The Daily Gazette’s All-Area co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Competitive cheerleading was first recognized as an official sport by the NYSPHSAA during the 2014-15 school year, and regional competitions were held that winter. This was the first year a state championship was held.


Amsterdam boys’ basketball coach Tim Jones remained at the bedside of his wife, Kim, the day she delivered the couples’ third child in late January. Jones’ Running Rams and his fill-in, assistant coach Scott Beatty, delivered that day, too, making the right moves and the right calls in an emotional 57-46 win at Scotia-Glenville.

Amsterdam also defeated Scotia-Glenville earlier in the season in overtime 58-52, which marked the Tartans’ first setback against a Section II opponent since the 2011-12 season.


Glens Falls freshman guard Joe Girard III was perfect on a record-setting December night with a 22-for-22 performance from the foul line in an 87-82 Foothills Council win at Amsterdam. He swished each of his first 21 free throws before the last got a piece of the rim and bounced in, giving the league’s most valuable player a school-record 52 points.

Girard scored his team’s last 17 points, and 23 in the final quarter, to top Jim Town’s Glens Falls record of 49 set in 1973.

Girard’s 45 points against Mekeel Christain Academy included a school-record 10 3-pointers, and when he fired in 47 points in a late-season game with South Glens Falls he reached 1,000, something no area 9th-grader had ever done.


Just days after longtime St. Mary’s coach and athletic director Joe Girard Sr. passed away, his grandson (see above) played a Section II Class B semifinal game in his honor and poured in 37 points to lift Glens Falls past Schalmont 69-55.

The evening did not start well for Girard III, who was 0-for-8 from the field in the first quarter and managed nine points by the half.

“I was doing it for my grandfather tonight, obviously,” Girard III said. “I knew I couldn’t quit for him because he wasn’t a quitter. He’s survived things that people don’t know how to survive. I was just doing my best to be like him and not quit.”


The Gloversville girls’ basketball team took a big leap forward with nine victories after prevailing once last season and going winless the season before. Gloversville did not have a varsity team in 2011-12 and 2012-13 due to a lack of older players in its program. Some talented youngsters, including freshman Harmony Philo and sophomore Jasmine Gonzalez, helped engineer the bounce-back campaign under second-year coach Molly Swam.


Bethlehem junior pole vaulter Tedi DeMaria topped her own Section II all-time best of 12-8 with a 12-83⁄4 in placing fourth at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.

The former gymnast began pole vaulting in the summer of 2014. She won an outdoor state championship last spring, and placed second at the indoor state meet earlier this month.


Saratoga Springs sophomore Julia VanHorne became just the second gymnast to cop three consecutive Section II all-around championships, and the Blue Streaks continued their team domination with a ninth straight Suburban Council title and a 15th consecutive Section II crown.


Schenectady senior Antonio Zamora followed up his 145-pound Class A wrestling title with Section II Division 1 championship, becoming only the second Patriot to claim that prize, and the first since Jason Hall back in 1993.


Tri-Falls made program history with its first appearance in the Section II Division 1 hockey final, and Saratoga Springs added to its own with an 8-1 win that gave the Blue Streaks two straight titles and six in seven years.

Saratoga went 16-0 against Section II teams, with three of those victories coming against Tri-Falls, and reached the state semifinals.


Though Tobias Holmes’ quest to join Schenectady’s 1,000-point club ended prematurely when he sustained a knee injury in a late-January game against Niskayuna, the star sophomore guard certainly had his bright moments, including a school-record 37 points in an 80-75 win at Albany. Holmes topped the 34 points Derrick Millinghaus delivered for the Patriots in 2009 against Amsterdam. Former Schenectady greats Willie Deane and Jason McKrieth both had games with 33.


Kevin Huerter poured in 32 points in Shenendehowa’s opener against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake — in just 18 minutes of playing time — and continued to produce in a big way nightly in leading the Plainsmen back to the state final four. The Maryland-bound guard was selected New York’s Mr. Basketball and the state’s top player by Gatorade. Wonder who the state sportswriters association is going to tab as their top guy?

Categories: -Sports-, High School Sports

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