You’re not supposed to win in the Section II basketball tournament when the guy who topped the scoring chart all season long manages nine points.
Mohonasen found a way Wednesday night.
“I saw Gloversville on tape. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it,” Mighty Warriors coach Ken Dagostino said after his team defeated the Dragons, 57-40, in a Class A first-round matchup. “We’re talking about three juniors playing in their first sectional game.”
Donye Walker, Jeff Wicks and Justin Kretzler outscored Gloversville by themselves, delivering a combined 43 points as the Mighty Warriors prevailed in their tournament opener for the seventh year in a row.
Defense kept the Mighty Warriors (No. 9 seed, 5-14) close in the first half before the trio of 11th-graders came on strong to fuel a 23-10 third-quarter run and a 13-5 spurt to begin the final frame.
“After such a tough season, it’s great to put it together,” said Walker, who led Mohonasen with 16 points. “We found open guys when we needed it. We hit shots when we needed it.”
Mohonasen senior standout Grant Massaroni struggled to find shots against Gloversville’s box-and-one, and of his nine points, five came in the last quarter after his team had opened up a 39-27 advantage. Massaroni came in averaging 18.4 points, and only once before had finished with less than nine.
“Our game plan was to keep Massaroni in check. Their role players beat us tonight,” said Gloversville coach Mark LeFever. “Credit to them. When you get open looks, you’ve got to knock them down. They did.”
Wicks and Kretzler came off the bench to produce 14 and 13 points, respectively, and, like Walker, reached season highs for offensive production. The threesome combined for 10 three-point baskets.
“It was great to see them play like that. They were stroking it,” said Massaroni, who topped Mohonasen with 10 rebounds and six assists. “Getting this under their belt is great for their confidence heading into the Scotia game.”
Mohonasen will take on defending Class A champion Scotia-Glenville (No. 1, 18-0) Sunday at 5:30 in the last of four quarterfinal games at Hudson Valley Community College. Scotia-Glenville edged Mohonasen in an overtime thriller, 62-61, in last year’s semifinal round, and went on to beat Notre-Dame-Bishop Gibbons for the title, 59-43.
“Scotia has earned everything they’ve achieved. Their players and coaching staff, it’s 12 months a year,” said Dagostino. “They’re obviously very good. Can we compete? That’s what we’re going up there to do.”
The Mighty Warriors’ offense began to show life Wednesday night in the second quarter when a 10-2 push got them within 17-16 at the break. Wicks sank two three-pointers to begin that run, and nailed two more as part of Mohonasen’s put-away 13-5, fourth-quarter flurry.
“I told the guys at the half, ‘We’ve got 16 minutes left. Our defense isn’t too bad, but we’ve got to step it up on offense,’ ” said Dagostino.
Walker began the third quarter with a putback basket and later connected on three threes. Kretzler had Mohonasen’s final eight points in the quarter on a three-point play, a three-point basket and a successful drive just before the buzzer.
Wicks’ three-pointer to open the fourth quarter extended Mohonasen’s lead to 42-27, and another long ball by Kretzler had the visitors on top, 47-29. A three by Wicks and a free throw by Massaroni made it a 20-point contest, at 52-32, with three minutes to go.
Barceem Dukes paced Gloversville (No. 8, 7-12) with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Kretzler 4-3-13, Massaroni 3-2-9, Wicks 4-2-14, Rapp 2-0-4, Walker 6-0-16, Richardson 0-1-1. Totals: 19-8-57.
Brown 1-0-3, Barnhill 3-0-7, Dukes 5-6-16, S. Arnold 1-0-2, Johnston 1-0-2, Goodwin 1-0-2, K. Arnold 3-0-8. Totals: 15-6-40.
Mohonasen 6 10 23 18 — 57
Gloversville 9 8 10 13 — 40
Three-point goals: Kretzler 2, Massaroni, Wicks 4, Walker 4, Brown, Barnhill, K. Arnold 2.