ROTTERDAM — Schalmont has its first two-game winning streak of the season and a big Kirvin Cup trophy to show for it.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the start of something big for a revamped team that’s looking to make its presence felt in the new year.
“Coach told us this usually springs us for the second half of the season,” Schalmont junior forward Jesse O’Dell said after the Sabres defeated Catskill 70-52 for the John F. Kirvin Tournament title Wednesday at Mohonasen High School. “I think it will. We’re coming together now.”
Schalmont (3-5) had its defense working for the second night in a row, and cranked up its offense in the final, with Troy Moran and O’Dell leading the way with 20 and 17 points, respectively.
“We haven’t really played well as a team,” Moran, a senior guard, said after dropping in five 3-point baskets. “We’ve got these two wins, and we want to keep winning and winning and make a run.”
Schalmont coach Greg Loiacono said his team, with only four seniors, has changed since practice began in November.
“They’ve worked hard and they’re starting to play as a team. They’re coming together as a team,” he said after Schalmont’s fourth straight Kirvin Cup championship and second in a row at Catskill’s expense. “They’re starting to understand how good they can be.”
Schalmont was real good in the first half Wednesday night, particularly at the defensive end where O’Dell collected five blocked shots and the Sabres, as a whole, came up with nine steals. That stingy effort resulted in a 39-23 advantage against a Catskill group that put up 86 points in the first round against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
“We try to get teams off balance,” Moran said. “We changed some things up on them. The last couple of games before the tournament, we had not played good defense. That was an emphasis. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Schalmont beat Mohonasen 55-52 in Tuesday’s opening round before holding Catskill (5-5) down, too.
“We knew they had a couple of shooters,” O’Dell said. “Our goal was to lock them down, and on misses, get the rebound and go. We wanted to push it.”
Justin Brantley paced the Cats with 16 points, and Logan Worth netted 15.
“That’s something we’re always working on and talking about,” Loiacono said of his team’s defense. “The last two games were great. That’s the first time we held anyone under 60. When we play defense, we’ve got a shot.”
L.J. Randle played a key first-half role with three steals, four rebounds, five of his seven assists and a layup in the middle of a 7-0 spurt to open the second quarter when the Sabres began to separate themselves from the Cats.
Moran started the run with a 3-pointer, and his steal and layup finished it to give the Sabres a 21-12 lead. Moran, an all-tournament selection, knocked down another 3-pointer in a 9-0 run to close the half.
“Everyone was shooting with confidence,” O’Dell, the tournament most valuable player, said of the first half. “Everyone was sharing the ball. We had energy from the bench.”
Moran hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter and Tyler Mattice and Mike Tommasone both delivered another as Schalmont extended its lead to 59-40. Schalmont led by as many as 23 in the fourth (63-40) when Moran converted a 3-point play.
Moran finished with three steals and O’Dell led the Sabres with seven rebounds.
“You’re always worried about a letdown after the Mohonasen game,” Loiacono said. “That didn’t happen.”
Yusef Abushqeir was quite active for Catskill and totaled nine points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Brandon Kruzinski scored six of his 17 points in overtime, and Steven Celmins put in four of his 16 in the extra session, to lead Mohonasen to an
80-75 consolation game win over Bishop Gibbons.
Ryan Deguire had 14 points, and Jalani Abdul-Aziz added 13 for the Mighty Warriors. Zyir Beverly piled up 38 points for the Golden Knights after generating 30 against Catskill, and Armoni Poole fired in 18.
Mohonasen outscored Bishop Gibbons in overtime 12-7.
SCHALMONT 70, CATSKILL 52
L. Worth 7-1-15, J. Worth 3-0-7, Abushqeir 2-5-9, Caraballo 0-1-1, Ivery 1-0-2, Edwards 1-0-2, Brantley 4-5-16. Totals: 18-12-52.
Sanford 2-0-4, Pivacek 0-2-2, Tommasone 1-2-5, S. O’Dell 1-1-3, Ericson 3-0-6, Mattice 4-0-9, Randle 2-0-4, Moran 7-1-20, J. O’Dell 8-1-17. Totals: 28-7-70.
Catskill 12 11 17 12 — 52
Schalmont 14 25 20 11 — 70
Three-point goals: J. Worth, Brantley 3, Tommasone, Mattice, Moran 5.
MOHONASEN 80, NOTRE DAME-BISHOP GIBBONS 75
NOTRE DAME-BISHOP GIBBONS
Hundley 2-1-5, Poole 5-5-18, Gosh 1-2-4, Dikeman 1-0-2, Sexton 2-3-8, Beverly 15-5-38. Totals: 26-16-75.
Deguire 6-2-14, Tallman 2-0-4, Kruzinski 5-6-17, Abdul-Aziz 5-0-13, Van Epps 0-1-1, Roscoe 0-1-1, Deas 5-0-10, Celmins 6-4-16, Boynton 1-0-2, Tope 1-0-2. Totals: 31-14-80.
ND-BG 13 16 21 18 7 — 75
Mohon 18 14 19 17 12 — 80
Three-point goals: Poole 3, Sexton, Beverly 3, Kruzinski, Abdul-Aziz 3.