There was no going through the motions in the Scotia-Glenville High School gymnasium late Wednesday afternoon.
The basketball team’s starting five was going up and down hard in a controlled scrimmage, and its reserves were pushing back. When coach Jim Giammattei called a timeout to go over offensive and defensive sets, there was a keen focus.
“That’s what got us the state championship in the first place,” said Giammattei. “Their work ethic. Their competitiveness. Their passion. Their pride.”
Those four things all melded together over the weekend when the Tartans captured the school’s first New York State Public High School Athletic Association title.
They secured the Class A crown with a runaway 81-50 semifinal win over John Glenn of Long Island Saturday before rallying for a 66-44 triumph over East High of Rochester Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Sunday’s win was highlighted by a 21-2 fourth-quarter run, and left the state’s top-ranked team with a 25-0 record.
“No letdown. We’ve been practicing hard every day,” said junior guard Scott Stopera, who was named to the all-tournament team after collecting seven points, six rebounds and 11 assists against East. “Just because we won the state title doesn’t mean we’re done. We’ve still got a lot of things to prove.”
Scotia-Glenville will take on Albany Academy (14-4, Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association) Friday night at 8:30 in a semifinal game of the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions at the Times Union Center.
“The Federation is a playoff game after the championship, as strange as that may sound,” said Giammattei. “There will be people in the stands. There will be a scoreboard, so we’re getting ready to compete. We’re getting ready to fight.”
Albany Academy is the defending Federation champ. When the Cadets beat Nazareth at the buzzer (43-40) and John Adams (50-34) last year,
they became just the second Capital Region team to earn Federation laurels. Watervliet
(1991, Class C) is the only Section II team to have won a Federation title.
“Our season is not over. We’re excited to be playing at the Times Union Center, in a new atmosphere,” said Scotia-Glenville senior forward Dom LeMorta. “We know who they are and we respect them a lot, but we’re going to go out and try to do our thing, and see how far we can take this. We’re not going to back down.”
Like LeMorta, Alex Sausville and Schuyler Sayles will be suiting up for the final time with Scotia-Glenville at the Federation event. Sausville played a huge role in the Tartans getting there with 26 points against East and 28 when they took down Bishop Ludden, 72-44, in the regionals.
“They know this is their final opportunity to play. They realize their mortality as a high school player,” said Giammattei. “Even our juniors have a sense that this is going to be the end. They all want to make the most of it.”
Scotia-Glenville became the fourth Schenectady County team to win a state championship, following Niskayuna in 1978 and Schenectady in 1998 and 2001. The win over East was the Tartans’ seventh in the postseason.
“The support we’ve received has been phenomenal,” said junior guard Joe Cremo, who was tabbed Class A tourney MVP after totaling 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists against East.
“Everyone in school is coming to the game. We’re going to keep playing hard for them.”