After reaching the state Class A championship basketball game with one early scoring burst after another, Scotia-Glenville won it with a big push in the end.
“It’s hard to deny a group of young men who want something so bad,” Tartans coach Jim Giammattei said after Sunday’s 66-44 triumph over East High of Rochester. “These guys were not going to go down easy. This is what they’ve been committed to for a year. This has been their life.”
Alex Sausville and Joe Cremo combined for 18 points, and the Tartans played shutout ball for all but the last few seconds in an incredible fourth quarter that lifted Scotia-Glenville to its first New York State Public High School Athletic Association title at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It’s history,” said Cremo. “We’re not going to forget this, ever.”
Scotia-Glenville trailed by three with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, 39-36, and closed it with a 9-3 run before spraying the Orientals of Rochester with 21 unanswered points.
“We were in the huddle and we said we’ve got eight minutes left,” said Cremo, who became the school’s all-time scoring leader Saturday and won the Class A most valuable player award Sunday. “If we were going down, we were going down fighting.”
East (Section V, 19-5) had little fight left after Scotia-Glenville (25-0) hit the Orientals with a bevy of inside and outside baskets in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
In that frame, Sausville sank three of his tournament (all classes) record-tying eight three-point baskets, and Cremo also scored nine points, including a three-point play to start it and two free throws that made it 66-42 with 1:15 to go.
“We made shots and our defense stepped up,” said Sausville, an all-tournament pick who finished with 26 points. “All five guys stepped up.”
“That run was so satisfying to see because they all believed it could happen,” said Giammattei. “I didn’t have to sell it. They thought it was going to go their way.”
Raheen Gayden dropped in a layup with five seconds left for East’s only fourth-quarter points.
“There were a couple of little floaters we missed and a couple of threes. We didn’t keep pace with them,” said East coach Darrell Barley. “Once it got to eight, and with the way they were shooting, we started to panic. The fourth quarter was tough.”
Cremo was 10-for-14 shooting and 3-for-3 from the line in a 23-point performance, while Sausville was 8-for-13 on three-point attempts. The senior guard was 2-for-7 on threes in Saturday’s 81-50 win over John Glenn.
“I worked this morning to make it better,” said Sausville, who made five second-half threes in the final. “For it to work out, it’s awesome.”
“We’ve been on the same team for three years and we’ve been through a lot together,” Cremo, a junior guard, said of Sausville. “To see him have a performance like that, it made my day.”
After Cremo’s three-point play to begin the final quarter, Sausville connected twice from long range, with Cremo drawing a charging call in between. Cremo’s layup and a three by Scott Stopera made it 59-42 with 4:20 left, and the first-time final four participants were on their way to their 23rd double-digit victory.
“When someone is hot like that, you’ve got to get him the ball,” Tartans senior forward Dom LeMorta said of Sausville. “He led us to the state championship.”
Scotia-Glenville came up short of the final four last year, in 2012 and 2009 with regional setbacks. The Tartans avenged last year’s 58-53 regional loss to Bishop Ludden with a 72-44 rout last weekend.
“That’s why we won this,” Giammattei said of the 2013 defeat. “We got to that game and lost by five. We were a year away, and they worked to the best of their ability for 365 days.”
Stopera had seven points with a three in the 9-3 third-quarter spurt, and notched 11 of Scotia-Glenville’s 20 assists on 25 baskets. Like all-tourney pick Stopera, LeMorta made a pair of threes and the Tartans were 12-for-25 beyond the arc.
“They shot 48 percent on threes. They played together. The best team won,” said Barley. “That’s why they’re No. 1 in the state.”
Scotia-Glenville recovered from a 6-0 deficit to go up in the second quarter, 24-17, and the Tartans led at the half, 28-26. A three by Angel Liranzo and two foul shots by Jon Moody gave East a 39-36 edge, and Cremo had baskets to start and finish the 9-3 Tartans’ run.
Dontay Caruthers, who came in averaging 30 points per game for East, had 14, all in the first half.
Scotia-Glenville is the first Section II team to win a NYSPHSAA Class A championship since the tournament went to five classes in 2004.
Scotia-Glenville will meet Albany Academy (14-4, Association of Independent Schools) Friday at 11:45 a.m. in the semifinals of the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions at the Times Union Center.
Hoosic Valley won the state Class C title Saturday, and Green Tech claimed the Class AA title Sunday, giving the Section II boys three New York flags for the second year in a row.
Stopera 2-1-7, Palleschi 2-0-4, Sausville 9-0-26, Cremo 10-3-23, LeMorta 2-0-6. Totals: 25-4-66.
Gayden 2-0-5, Liranzo 2-0-5, Stevens 1-0-2, Moody 0-4-4, Banks 2-1-5, Morrison 3-0-9, Caruthers 6-1-14. Totals: 16-6-44.
Scotia-Glenville 11 17 17 21 — 66
East 15 11 16 2 — 44
Three-point goals: Stopera 2, Sausville 8, LeMorta 2, Gayden, Liranzo, Morrison 3, Caruthers.