Scotia-Glenville made a historic leap when it beat Bishop Ludden last weekend in a regional championship game that had all the makings of a classic, but was essentially over by the half.
“We put so much preparation into that game, mentally and physically, and went out there and showed what can happen when it’s all clicking,” Tartans junior Mike Palleschi said of that 72-44 triumph. “We played great on offense and locked down on some of their key players. That’s what we can do. Hopefully, we can continue that.”
The Tartans will get their chance as a first-time state final four participant. They’ll take a No. 1 state ranking to the Glens Falls Civic Center and a 23-0 record that includes 21 double-digit victories.
The win at Bishop Ludden’s expense avenged a regional loss from 2013, while Scotia-Glenville also came up short at that stage of the state tournament in 2012 and 2009.
“When we won that game, we enjoyed the moment. We made history,” said Tartans junior Joe Cremo. “Now, we have a new goal.”
Scotia-Glenville will take on John Glenn (Section XI, 18-6) in a Class A semifinal game Saturday morning at 10:45, following a matchup between Rochester East (Section V, 19-4) and Red Hook (Section IX, 17-5). Sunday’s title game is set for 1:30.
Scotia-Glenville is looking to add another championship to go with its Foothills Council, Arthur Hilliard Memorial Tournament, Section II and regional crowns.
“It’s hard to explain how proud I am of this team and our program and what we’ve been able to accomplish for our school,” said Palleschi. “We’re going to try to get more than that.”
The Hilliard title came with wins over Class AA schools Newburgh Free Academy and Schenectady, and the Section II flag came with its most difficult victory, a double-overtime thriller against Troy, the 2013 area Class AA king.
“They’re there. You’ve got to give respect to any team that gets this far, but if we play how we can play, it usually works out in our way,” said Tartans senior Alex Sausville, who scored a career-best 28 points against Ludden. “We have shown we can do it. What we did against Ludden and Troy, we have to do it again.”
Big games are not new to this group of Tartans. Cremo and Sausville have been important figures in their lineup for three seasons, each of those highlighted by a Section II title-game win. Dom LeMorta and Scott Stopera are two-year starters, and Palleschi was first off the bench last season.
Palleschi just missed a double-double in the Ludden game with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Cremo had 17 points, seven boards and six assists. LeMorta led the way with 19 points in a 70-41 regional semifinal win over Peru, and in the Troy game before, Stopera provided the margin of victory with three free throws in the final seconds.
“They know it’s the state tournament, but in the same breath, the stage is not too big. It’s not over their head,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei. “No one is star-struck.”
No one is looking past John Glenn, either, which lost to Amityville in the Suffolk County Class A final in overtime, 74-73, but had its playoffs hopes revitalized when Amityville later gave up the title because it used an ineligible player.
John Glenn advanced to the state final four for the first time since 1987 with a 68-58 win over Section VIII’s Valley Stream South in the Long Island overall championship game.
“John Glenn attacks the basket well. They play well together,” said Cremo. “We’ve got to communicate and play our zone [defense] with high energy.”
“If we play Scotia basketball and keep our poise, we have every reason to believe we will be right there,” said Giammattei. “Our staples are to contest shots on defense and rebound as a pack. At the other end, value each possession, meaning no turnovers and great shot selection.”