Joe Cremo did not shoot much from the perimeter in Scotia-Glenville’s Section II Class A championship game with Troy.
It’s the only role the junior did not fill at some time during the Tartans’ 77-75 overtime win. He banged for rebounds, scored on drives and foul shots, defended every guy that came his way and was playing point guard down the stretch.
“Joe can play one through five, and he can cover one through five,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei. “He can play up top or down low. He can defend 5-8 and fast as lightning and 6-9 and strong as a bull. He’s like a Magic Johnson in that way.”
And like the former Los Angeles Lakers star, Cremo piled up the most valuable player awards. The last of his five such honors came after the Tartans won New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation Tournament of Champions titles. A second selection to the Daily Gazette All-Area first team has come his way, too.
“He’d be the MVP of the lunch room,” Giammattei laughed. “Week after week, he delivered. We went on the most incredible run, and he never stopped leading us.”
Through Scotia-Glenville’s 27-0 season Cremo averaged 24.8 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.1 steals. His rebounding average is particularly impressive considering he played at the top of the Tartans’ 3-2 defensive zone in most games.
“One thing with Joe above all other things was his production level. He was the most consistent kid in the area as far as defense, assists, scoring and rebounding,” said Giammattei.
Cremo scored at least 21 points in every regular-season game and in six of nine playoff contests. Headed to the University at Albany, the 6-foot-4 star totaled 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists when the Tartans beat Troy for their third straight Section II title. In the NYSPHSAA final four, he had 27 points against John Glenn and 23 against East High. In the Federation event, he had 22 against Albany Academy and 24 against Holy Trinity, and in both victories took down double-digit rebounds.
“A lot of guys get points. Joe is so efficient, it’s uncanny,” said Giammattei, who saw Cremo shoot 62.4 percent from the field. “He goes 12-for-18 or 10-for-15, and it’s an off day.”
Cremo became the fifth Scotia-Glenville boy to reach 1,000 points 10 games into the season and closed with a school-record 1,394. His 672 points this season is another record.
“The best thing about coaching Joe is he’s very confident, but incredibly humble,” said Giammattei. “He’s gracious toward the other team. Talks his teammates up. He’s a great guy to deal with,”
Cremo was tabbed the MVP at the Arthur Hilliard Memorial Tournament after scoring a career-high 33 points against Newburgh Free and 31 against Schenectady. He also earned his second Foothills Council and Section II tourney MVP awards.
“He was able to take every part of his game up another notch,” said Giammattei. “Every part was a shade different, and that came with maturity, added strength and drive. He works incredibly hard.”
Behind Dyaire Holt’s fabulous all-around play, Troy remained among Section II’s elite teams with second-place finishes in the Big 10 and Section II Class A tournament.
“When you graduate the senior class we graduated, including the two focal points in your offense and defense, there’s an unknown,” said Troy coach Rich Hurley. “I put a lot on his shoulders. I asked him to run the offense, run the defense, provide leadership, be our go-to guy, and he surpassed everything I had envisioned.”
The sophomore point guard averaged 19.5 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 steals. He scored 11 points or more in all but one game, and reached a career-high 36 while scoring the winning basket in the last second against Christian Brothers Academy. The three-year varsity player also had outings with 30, 29 and 28.
“He shot hundreds of threes getting ready for the season. He worked on his step back. The floater,” said Hurley. “He sets goals, writes them down, and goes to work. He’s very driven.”
Holt forced overtime on a late three-pointer when Troy dealt Catholic Central its only league loss. He also nailed a three in the closing seconds to bring on the second OT when the Flying Horses met Scotia-Glenville in the sectional final.
“He wants the ball, and as a coach, I have confidence in him,” said Hurley.
Holt had 21 points and six assists against Scotia-Glenville, and was named to the all-tournament team. Holt earned Big 10 first-team all-star honors, as well.
“His game was really, really good,” said Hurley. “The first two years, he wasn’t a true point guard, but we needed him to do that. We needed him to guard the best player and score. The weight I put on him was big, and he did all of that.”
Jamil Hood Jr.
Jamil Hood Jr. sacrificed some numbers, and Green Tech flourished.
“We told Jamil coming into the season he could get his 30 a night, or he could get his 15 to 20 and distribute the ball, and we’d be a better team,” Green Tech coach Jamil Hood said of his son. “He got others involved. He created a lot of opportunities for them.”
The senior point guard and his supporting cast ended up winning the Section II Class AA title. Two weeks later, Hood Jr. led the Eagles — in only their fourth varsity season — to a state championship.
“He had quite a season,” said the elder Hood, whose son won Section II and state tournament MVP awards. “We consistently faced tough teams, and he showed up every night.”
Hood Jr., who has committed to LIU-Brooklyn, averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals in his third varsity season. He matched his season high with 27 points, and nailed a clinching three when the Eagles beat Guilderland for Section II honors, 65-56. In the state final, he scored 18 points and went 5-for-6 from the foul line in the final minute with a key steal as the Eagles topped Jamestown, 54-49.
Hood Jr. went over the career 1,000-point mark in the Jamestown game, and with 14 more in a Federation loss to Long Island Lutheran, finished with 1,028.
“He’s always been aggressive getting to the hoop, but there was some question about his jump shot,” said the Green Tech coach. “He got in the gym early and stayed late. He took 300 shots a day and got better.
“His defense was also better. He got stronger. Guards couldn’t get by him.”
Hood Jr. helped Green Tech reach the Section II title game as a junior. He made the Class AA all-tournament team after netting 31 points against CBA and 19 against Troy.
Catholic Central sophomore Anthony Mack keeps getting better, in all parts of his game.
“He works on his weaknesses. He doesn’t go to the gym and jack up shots. He goes to the gym with a plan and literally works,” said the the Big 10 MVP’s father, Crusaders coach Chuck Mack. “He’s raised the bar.”
Real good as an eighth-grader and super as a freshman, the versatile 6-foot-5 Mack went to a higher level and led Catholic Central to 17 wins and its first Big 10 title since 1983. He averaged 21.9 points and had highs of 34, 32 and 30, and sank 42 threes. He also collected 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.4 steals.
Mack had 29 points with five threes, 12 rebounds and 10 assists when the Crusaders beat Troy early in the season.
“He averaged 25.9 points, nine rebounds and four steals in our games with the big three [CBA, Troy, Schenectady] and in our two non-league games [with Notre Dame Utica and Spring Valley],” Chuck Mack noted. The 16-year-old is a natural two guard, but found himself playing every position at times this season. He will play the two and some one in the offseason with the elite Massachusetts Rivals travel team.
“He can guard quicks, but he’s a really tough defender down low. He boxes out well. He can shoot it and drive, but also post up,” said Chuck Mack. “He often played out of position, but with a smaller team like we had, you do what you have to do. We needed him to do different things.”
Coach Mack said 60 colleges have shown interest in his son and five have made offers, including the University at Albany.
“[UAlbany coach] Will Brown told me he likes Anthony’s knowledge of the game,” said Chuck Mack. “Anthony was better this year at recognizing what teams were doing defensively against him and responding to it.”
Mack has a chance to join Section II’s 2,000-point club. He will enter his junior season with 1,009.
Section II’s premier frontcourt player drew the focus of every defense Christian Brothers Academy faced, yet Greig Stire still averaged 18.9 points while scoring in double digits in 18 of 20 games.
“He carried us,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said of the 6-foot-7 senior, who had his best games in the second half of the season. “He took us as far as he could get us. Rebounding, passing, scoring inside, he did a tremendous job for us.”
The two-time Daily Gazette and Big 10 first-team all-star poured in a career-high 41 points in a 69-65 loss to Catholic Central. Stire, who will redshirt next season at the University at Albany, used dunks, drives and an improved jumper to net 29, 27 twice and 25 in other standout efforts.
“They had one on top, one behind and one on the side. They tried everything to get to him, and he single-handidly kept us in it,” Doemel said of his monster effort against the Crusaders, in which he went 12-for-13 from the line. “He pushed himself. A lot of what he got was on offensive rebounds and second and third chances.”
A McDonald’s All-America nominee, Stire averaged 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his third varsity season.
“He’s an excellent passer, both in reading who’s open and delivering the ball,” said Doemel.
Jamil Hood Jr, Green Tech, 12 16.5
Greig Stire, CBA, 12 18.9
Joe Cremo, Scotia, 11 24.8
Dyaire Holt, Troy, 10 19.5
Anthony Mack, CCHS, 10 21.9
Austin Nydegger, BH-BL, 12 19.3
Alex Sausville, Scotia, 12 16.2
Jahlil Nails, Columbia, 11 24.7
Zach Radz, Troy, 11 14.6
Andrew Platek, Guilderland, 10 15.8
Jeremy Mendrick, B. Spa, 12 15.8
John Moutopoulos, AA, 11 11.9
Brandon LaForest, Cohoes, 11 19.2
Scott Stopera, Scotia, 11 5.6
Kevin Huerter, Shen, 10 14.0
Big 10: Kevin Callender (Albany), Kory Bergh (Amsterdam), Raiquis Harris, Jiriem Tedder (CCHS), Nick Marini (CBA), Ryan Bielawa (LaSalle), Tobias Holmes, Keishaun Wheelings (Schenectady), Jack McLaren (Troy).
Suburban Council: Connor Morelli (Bethlehem), Elijah Lott (Columbia), Matt Cerutti, Marc duMoulin, Vin Simeone (Guilderland), Aaron Gordon (Niskayuna), Noah Arciero, Chris Byno (Saratoga), Malik Dare, Andrew Holmes (Shaker), Jake Hicks (Shenendehowa).
Foothills Council: Andre Taylor (Broadalbin-Perth), Asa Barnhill, Barceem Dukes (Gloversville), Austin Riska (Johnstown), Keegan O’Leary (Queensbury), Dom LeMorta, Mike Palleschi (Scotia-Glenville),
Colonial Council: Keenan Loder (Cobleskill-Richmondville), Will Turner (Fonda-Fultonville), Darnell Sutton, Dante Carr (Lansingburgh), Logan Polsinello, Mike Cannizzo (Mechanicville), David Warnken (Ravena), Zac O’Dell, Lucas Curtin (Schalmont), Noah Crawford, Logan Hotaling (Voorheesville), Ty’Jon Gilmore (Watervliet)
Western Athletic Conference: Maclin Norray (BKW), Dillan Veeder, Josh Gonzalez (Canajoharie), Kevin Lenehan (Duanesburg), Aiden VanLoan (Fort Plain), Troy Hinckley (Middleburgh), Mano Senthil, Mike Mann (Mekeel), Evan Pescetti, Luke Spicer, Michael Naughton (Saratoga Catholic), Connor Brown (Schoharie).
Others: Matt Knezovic, Ray Jerome (Albany Academy), Zach Shippee (Corinth), Ramion Burt (Green Tech), Jonny Dariano (Loudonville Christian).
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.