SARATOGA SPRINGS — The boys’ basketball teams from Waterford-Halfmoon and Saratoga Central Catholic have much in common as newcomers to the Wasaren League. They’re different, too, with Friday night’s 71-41 victory for the Saints serving as a barometer.
“We’re young,” Waterford-Halfmoon coach Jon Deso said after his Fordians slipped to 0-3 in the league. “We’re not very big, and we’re inexperienced.”
Saratoga Catholic has veteran savvy and some decent size in the starting lineup and on the bench, and it used those assets to subdue Waterford-Halfmoon for its second straight league win.
“We have three guys returning who started on our sectional team,” coach Ken Mantia said of forward Tyler Haraden and guards Terrel Tillman and Connor Farrington, who helped the Saints capture last season’s Class C championship. “That gives you some confidence coming into a new league like we are. We did lose two post players, though, and that’s something we’re continuing to work on.”
The Saints played a Wasaren League brand of ball on the boards, limiting the Fordians to one shot more often than not, while creating many second opportunities at the other end.
“You can feel it,” Mantia said of the Wasaren League, which is known in for its competitive nature. “You better box out in this league, or you don’t get the ball.”
Deso said he’s glad to part of the Wasaren League after previously competing in the Central Hudson Valley League.
“We’re excited about being in the Wasaren League. It’s going to be instrumental in us getting to the next level,” he said. “It’s Class C and B schools. It’s aggressive. They get after it on defense. We know we’re going to take some lumps early.”
Saratoga Catholic (2-2, 3-3) has already dished some out, beating Tamarac before topping Waterford-Halfmoon. The Saints dropped their first two league games to Mechanicville and Stillwater.
“It’s good for us,” Mantia said. “It’s going to make us tougher.”
Farrington, one of the Saints five seniors, agreed.
“It’s a lot more competitive,” Farrington said after scoring seven points. “There are a lot of bigger guys. Kids are lot more experienced. It’s more physical. It’s good for us.”
Both Waterford-Halfmoon and Saratoga Catholic, a former Western Athletic Conference member, joined the Wasaren League in large part because its schools are closer travel-wise to their own.
“We traveled more than any school in Section II,” Saratoga Catholic athletic director Phonsey Lambert said. “We loved those teams [in the WAC]. We had such a great experience, but the travel . . . It’s too bad we couldn’t have them all move closer.”
Saratoga Catholic (2-2, 3-3) turned a close game Friday night into a one-sider with an 18-0 run to close the first half. Haraden and Tillman both scored seven of those points, with Tillman’s putback basket at the buzzer making it 39-17.
“They made a little run and we stayed with our game plan,” Farrington said. “Drive and dish. Move the ball. Play defense.”
Saratoga Catholic led 21-9 early in the second quarter, and Waterford-Halfmoon (0-3, 2-4) got back in it on a 3-pointer by Joey Panetta, two free throws by Jared Aubin and another 3-point hoist by Kyle Fairclough.
“Our kids are battling,” said Deso, who has three seniors in Fairclough, Aubin and Dalton Davenport. “In our last two games we got down early and battled back. Tonight we got it to a four-point game. It’s something we can build on.”
Tillman collected 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and two of the Saints six steals in less than three quarters.
“I think he’s twice as good as last year,” Mantia said of the sophomore point guard. “He can score, but he looks to set people up. That’s his mentality. To look for his teammates.”
Haraden had 12 points and five rebounds, and forwards Cadhan McFadden and Sean Englert both had nine points off the Saints’ bench. Fairclough scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half.
Panetta 1-0-3, Hanks 2-1-6, Houle 3-1-7, Aubin 1-2-4, Fairclough 8-2-21. Totals: 15-6-41.
Farrington 3-0-7, R. McFadden 1-0-3, Scammell 1-0-3, Tillman 8-2-19, S. Haraden 1-2-4, Emglert 4-1-9, T. Haraden 4-2-12, C. McFadden 3-3-9, Conrad 1-0-3. Totals: 26-12-71.
W-H 9 8 17 7 — 41
SC 18 21 18 14 — 71
Three-point goals: Panetta, Hanks, Fairclough 3, Farrington, R. McFadden, Scammell, Tillman, T. Haraden 2, Conrad.