The Scotia-Glenville basketball team played follow the leader Sunday afternoon.
Joe Cremo beat the first-quarter buzzer with a halfcourt heave, Joe Almond hit another three-pointer to kick-start a monster run that followed and the Tartans rode that burst to another state Class A championship-game win at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It was the domino effect,” Tartans coach Jim Giammattei said after a 54-49 win against Greece Athena. “It’s tied, 19-19, and we needed to batten down the hatches. Our defense got the offense going, and the lid came off.”
Scotia-Glenville rattled off 16 unanswered points to begin the second quarter, then spent the rest of the contest holding off the Trojans from Rochester, playing 10 of those minutes without Mike Palleschi after the 6-foot-6 frontcourt standout got poked in the eye.
“It’s been a pattern for us. It happened against Troy, CBA and today. He’s our rim protector,” said Giammattei. “We figured they would go on a run sometime. With Mike out, we knew they would.”
Cremo sank two free throws with 21 seconds left after Greece Athena (Section V, 24-1) had crept within three, and Almond grabbed a rebound at the other end to finish off Scotia-Glenville’s 53th straight and history-making victory.
“I just knew we were going to weather the storm and hold on,” said Almond.
The Tartans (26-0), with a 46-42 semifinal win against Spring Valley and Sunday’s triumph, became Section II’s first boys’ team to secure back-to-back New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships. Cremo earned his second tourney MVP award after a 24-point, 11-rebound effort, Almond had nine points and five steals, and Scotty Stopera had nine points, two steals and four assists.
Diamond Corker, Palleschi and reserve Dan Clune combined for the other 12 points.
“Yesterday was the most physical game we’ve played, and these guys came right back. They ran to the fight,” said Giammattei. “You need that to keep a streak going.”
“I had these guys in seventh grade,” said S-G assistant coach Mark Mortensen. “They didn’t lose then, either.”
Almond and Stopera both went scoreless Saturday before splitting six threes Sunday, with Almond going 3-for-4 from long range. Cremo carried the offensive load against Spring Valley with 34 points.
“Joe was frustrated yesterday, mostly about the turnovers, but we all had some,” said Cremo. “I told him, ‘We’re going to need you,’ and he stepped up.”
Almond nailed an early three, and the senior added two more long-distance hoops in the 16-0 spurt that gave the state’s No. 1-ranked team a 35-19 advantage. Stopera made a three in each of the first three quarters.
“We’re shooters. We were still confident,” said Stopera. “We were ready for the big moment.”
“As soon as the first one went, that gave me a load of confidence,” said Almond. “I wanted to forget about yesterday and make an impact.”
Giammattei said the three-point impact from his two seniors was hugh.
In all, Scotia-Glenville was 7-for-11 on first-half threes.
“Joe and Scotty gave us a great lift with their threes in the first half. That’s 15 big points,” he said. “Without those threes, we’re where we were yesterday.”
Almond sandwiched threes around a Cremo layup in the second frame, and Stopera’s three gave S-G a 30-19 lead. A reverse layup by Cremo and a three by the UAlbany-bound star made it 35-19, and the Tartans led at the half, 37-24.
“Our defense was very, very good in the second quarter. They got five points late,” said Stopera. “What we wanted to do is get stops and run. We were moving and finding guys.”
Cremo lit the spark with his buzzer-beating three from just inside the halfcourt line, which ended a 6-0 run by the Trojans.
“I got the ball. I crossed over and their guys bit on it, and I put it up,” said S-G’s career scoring leader with 2,131 points. “My grandmother was with me on that.”
Anthony Lamb had 16 points and eight rebounds for Greece Athena, Brendan Wind had 11 points, and Zac DiSalvo had nine points on a trio of threes, his last with 22 seconds left making it 52-49.
Greece Athena outscored Scotia-Glenville in the final quarter, 18-13, after doing so in the third, 7-4. The Trogans’ fourth quarter included a 16-7 run when DiSalvo made his three threes.
“We knew we were a couple of free throws and a stop away,” said Giammattei.
Scotia-Glenville will see action at the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions next weekend at the University at Albany, looking to complete its second straight perfect season.
Stopera 3-0-9, Clune 1-0-2, Almond 3-0-9, Palleschi 2-0-4, Cremo 8-6-24, D. Corker 2-2-6. Totals: 19-8-54.
Newton 1-0-2, Lamb 6-3-16, Wind 4-2-11, DiSalvo 3-0-9, Kubanka 1-2-5, Florin 3-0-6. Totals: 18-7-49.
Scotia-Glenville 19 18 4 13 — 54
Greece Athena 19 5 7 18 — 49
Three-point goals: Stopera 3, Almond 3, Cremo 2, Lamb, Wind, DiSalvo 3, Kubanka.