BINGHAMTON — Mohonasen entered the fourth quarter Saturday with a legitimate shot at extending its deepest postseason run.
An Ardsley basket, a quick turnover and another hoop signaled the beginning of the end, leaving the Mighty Warriors a win shy of the state Class A basketball championship game.
“I just said to our seniors we’re not here without every one of them,” Mohonasen coach Josh Peck said after a 61-56 semifinal loss at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. “I’m so proud of them. There’s a lot of broken hearts in there.”
But along the way to Binghamton, this Mohonasen group gave so much to so many as they won the school’s first Section II title since 2011, and added a first-ever regional flag with a dramatic overtime effort. The Mighty Warriors were the underdog in those games, against Amsterdam and Notre Dame of Utica.
“We had a lot of people in our corner,” Mohonasen senior Avery Deas said. “A lot of people we didn’t know. It felt good to have the community behind our back.”
This Mohonasen team was infectious with the way it shared the ball, played gritty defense and never relented, even over the final 32 minutes of its 15-10 campaign. Missed shots and turnovers did the Mighty Warriors in, though, after a hot first quarter that had them leading 18-12.
“We’ve got to be positive and reflect on our historic season,” Mohonasen junior Duncan Tallman said. “I’ve been here three years, and we’ve gotten better every year.”
Mohonasen lost to Scotia-Glenville in the 2016 Section II quarterfinals, and bowed out to Lansingburgh in the 2017 sectional semifinals. Mohonasen avenged that loss before topping Amsterdam and Notre Dame. Mohonasen had lost regional games back in 2011 and before that in 1992.
“Our season was great,” said Deas, who, along with fellow seniors Greg Van Epps, Joseph Vice and Jordan Friello, donned the Mohonasen uniform for a final time. “We made school history. We have something to be happy about.”
It wasn’t to be Saturday, when Ardsley (Section I, 20-7) led the entire second half after an 18-9 push in the second quarter.
The game’s key stat: 22 Mohonasen turnovers to Ardsley’s nine.
“Their pressure got to us,” Peck said. “Bottom line: We turned the ball over too much to win a game of this magnitude.”
Ardsley’s Zeke Blauner scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half, including seven straight to begin the final quarter as the Panthers stretched their 43-40 lead to double digits. Blauner first scored on a drive, and a steal and long pass by Julian McGarvey led to a three-point play by by Blauner.
Blauner dropped in another layup, and after Deas drove for a basket, McCarvey’s 3-pointer made it 53-42. The remainder of Ardsley’s points came from the free throw line.
“We struggled,” Tallman said. “We came out hot in the first quarter and cooled off from there.”
Tallman hit a trio of 3s and scored 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter.
“We work on defense all the time in practice,” said Blauner, a junior. “After the first quarter it was, ‘Let’s turn it up. Let’s play great defense.'”
Ardsley had shut out New Paltz over the final 9:36 in its 47-31 regional title-game win. In it regional semifinal, Ardsley stymied Maine-Endwell 59-41.
“We struggled to settle down,” Deas said. “We turned the ball over a lot.”
Dean and Van Epps both scored 11 points. Sean Casey scored 20 points for Ardsley, 16 in the first half with four 3s.
“They had to respect him [Casey],” Blauner said. “That opened me up in the second half.”
A putback basket by Chase Monroe gave Mohonasen a 27-25 lead late in the second quarter. Blauner converted a three-point play and Casey turned a steal into a buzzer-beating layup to put Ardsley in front for good.
Mohonasen never trailed by more than five in the third quarter.
Amityville (Section XI, 26-1) knocked off 2017 state Class A champ Irondequoit (Section V, 22-4) in the first semifinal 52-42.
Belarge 0-1-1, Blauner 10-6-26, Casey 7-1-20, Manzi 2-0-4, McGarvey 2-2-8, Hewitt 1-0-2. Totals: 22-10-61
Calkins 1-0-2, Tallman 5-3-16, Aziz 4-0-8, Van Epps 3-2-11, Febbie 1-0-2, Deas 5-1-11, Monroe 2-2-6. Totals: 21-8-56.
Ardsley 12 18 13 18 – 61
Mohonasen 18 9 13 16 – 56
Three-point goals: Casey 5, McGarvey 2, Tallman 3, Van Epps 3.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports