Scotia-Glenville can add a significant footnote to its championship basketball season tonight when the unbeaten Tartans take on Massena in a Class A regional semifinal game at Saratoga Springs High School.
“The fans have been really into it. The school is buzzing about it,” Tartans senior Andrew Tabbert said of his team’s surge toward the 7:45 matchup. “They’re looking for us to keep it going.”
A win tonight would be Scotia-Glenville’s first in state tournament play after regional setbacks last year and in 2009, both against Syracuse heavyweight Jamesville-DeWitt.
“It would be awesome to get it done. We’re looking at it as a great opportunity,” said sophomore Joe Cremo, who Saturday night was named the Section II Class A most valuable player after the Tartans beat Glens Falls. “We want to keep playing. If we stay together inside the lines, we should be OK.”
Scotia-Glenville (21-0) will need two wins to earn a return trip to the Glens Falls Civic Center, with Bishop Ludden waiting in the wings for a Saturday night regional final at Onondaga Community College. The focus at Tuesday’s practice was a Massena (Section X, 11-9) team that will have a size advantage.
“It’s our ball movement and speed against their size. That’s the game. We’re contrasting styles,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei. “Our word is battle. We have to fight them. I’ve read one article after another about them dominating inside and how they got the ball down low.”
“We haven’t played a team that big, but we scrimmaged Watervliet and Green Tech before the sectionals, and in the offseason, we’ve played all types of teams. We’re used to playing different styles,” said Tabbert, the top middle man in Scotia-Glenville’s 3-2 zone. “We just play.”
Playing defense has been a strength of the Tartans, who held Glens Falls to 45 points, Lansingburgh to 41 and Mohonasen to 36 during their sectional winning streak.
“We’ve got to have lots and lots of energy. We have to talk, and we have to rebound,” said Cremo, who, at 6-foot-3, is Scotia-Glenville’s tallest starter. “We hope the rebounding leads to us running. That’s what we like to do.”
“Hands up. Slide. Get to spots before they attack,” said Tabbert. “The whole team has to be in motion.”
Massena’s front line includes 6-5 Xavier Viskovich, 6-4 Zevon Viskovich and 6-4 Zack Rusaw. Rusaw scored the winning basket with 1.7 seconds left and finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds when the Red Raiders edged Franklin Academy in the Section X title game, 48-47.
Rusaw also had 18 points and nine rebounds when Massena beat Madrid-Waddington in the Section X overall tournament semifinals, 64-50, and 22 points and 16 rebounds when the Red Raiders lost to Ogdensburg Free Academy in the tourney’s championship game, 62-54.
“They want a halfcourt game. Even more, a game in the paint,” said Giammattei. “A fist fight in the paint would be to their liking.”
Dom LeMorta will join Cremo on the back line in Scotia-Glenville’s zone, and Alex Sausville and Scott Stopera will set up alongside Tabbert.
“We have to pressure them. Take away their vision,” said Giammattei. “We will do everything we can to harass them and limit their passes inside.”
Giammattei realizes Massena will get the ball down low at certain times, with guard Joey Lebelle among its top ball handlers.
“It’s very simple. Limit their second shots off rebounds, and we’re going to have to knock down shots,” said Giammattei. “More specifically, knock down three-point shots.”
Scotia-Glenville managed only three threes in its 53-45 victory over Glens Falls Saturday. In an 81-41 Section II semifinal win over Lansingburgh, LeMorta alone drilled six threes, and the Tartans piled up 12 of them in all.
“Move the ball and knock down shots,” said Giammattei. “That’s the equation for us.”
Cremo and LeMorta both scored 20 points and Tabbert delivered 19 in the Lansingburg game, and Sausville topped the Tartans with 13 in the Glens Falls game. That win elevated Scotia-Glenville to No. 5 in the state sportswriters’ rankings.
“We don’t know what we’re going to see, but we’ve been in this situation so many times in AAU,” said Cremo. “We have to play our game, stay with the plan, execute.
“They won their section and they deserve to be here. You have to have confidence, but you’ve also got to respect your opponent.”
Bishop Ludden (Section III, 19-2) will host tonight’s winner Saturday at 8. Ludden beat Watervliet for the state Class B championship last year, 43-42, and also beat the Cannoneers this season, 64-41.
“I’m already prepared for Bishop Ludden. I’ve got three films of them. I watched them Sunday [57-44 win over New Hartford in the Section III final]. I watched them play Albany Academy,” said Giammatei. “We know who they are. We played them in AAU in the fall. We’re very familiar with them.”
Lake George (20-2) will meet St. Lawrence (Section X, 10-11) in a Class C regional semifinal tonight at 6 at Saratoga. The winner gets AuSable Valley (Section VII, 14-4) Saturday at 4 at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
Section II Class B champ Watervliet (14-8) is also in action tonight at 7:45 against Beekmantown (Section VII, 13-7) at SUNY-Plattsburgh. The winner gets Ogdensburg Free Academy (Section X, 21-1) Saturday at 3:30 at SUNY-Potsdam.
Troy (19-3) and Henninger (Section III, 18-3) battle in a Class AA regional final Saturday at 2 at Onondaga Community College.
Argyle (21-0) plays either Moriah (Section VII, 9-11) or Madrid-Waddington (Section X, 16-7) in a Class D regional final Saturday at 4 at Hudson Falls High School.