Seven Section II finalists from last season will be among 22 boys' basketball teams competing in the first ZG SLAM North South Classic later this month in Albany and Glens Falls.
The 13-game event put on by Zero Gravity Basketball will feature seven games Jan. 19 at the Washington Avenue Armory and six games Jan. 27 at Cool Insuring Arena. That second session has Albany Academy scheduled to play Park School of Buffalo, which beat the Cadets at the buzzer in the 2018 Class A New York Federation Tournament of Champions title game.
The high-caliber field will also include Glens Falls and its Syracuse-bound state career scoring leader Joseph Girard III, and 2018 New York State Public High School Athletic Association champs Mekeel Christian Academy and Lake George, Section II titlist Shenendehowa and Section II runners-up Amsterdam, Schalmont, Hoosick Falls and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville.
Albany Academy, which is led by Yale-bound August Mahoney, as well as Glens Falls, Green Tech and Hoosick Falls will play games in both sessions of the tournament.
"Getting Glens Falls was a big thing. JG3's [Girard] name is hot," said Hunter Stratton, a regional director for Zero Gravity Basketball. "They just played in a big event in Florida for their [two] non-league games and they were good enough to do a little shuffling with their schedule."
Glens Falls and Schalmont will be among the teams playing league games as part of the showcase. Schalmont will kick off the event Jan. 19 against Cobleskill-Richmondville.
"It will be fun to go play and then watch some of those games," Schalmont coach Greg Loiacono said.
Loiacono said he was lured by the opportunity to play another game at a facility that is unfamiliar to his Sabres. They've already played games, and won, at Oneonta High School, SUNY Cobleskill and Fulton-Montgomery Community College this season.
"We're playing in a lot of different venues to get ready for sectionals. I like exposing them to different environments, different courts," Loiacono said. "Some of our younger teams have played in their [Zero Gravity] AAU tournaments. When they asked if we were interested, I saw it as a good opportunity."
Schalmont will have one of the tournament's premier players in Division I prospect Shane O'Dell. Albany Academy junior Andre Jackson and Green Tech sophomore Josh Rodriguez are among other Division I prospects who will see action. Stratton said numerous college recruiters will be on hand for the games.
"It's a great opportunity for all of the players to be seen," Stratton said. "So many times they [college scouts] will be there looking at one guy and find another one. It happens all the time."
Pre-sale tickets are $6 for students and $10 for adults, and include all games that day. Tickets at the door will be $8 for students and $12 for adults. More information can be obtained at www.zerogravitybasketball.com/northsouthclassic.
Stratton said the plan is to add girls' games to the showcase next season.
Washington Avenue Armory
Schalmont vs. Cobleskill-Richmondville, 11 a.m.; Watervliet vs. Mekeel Christian Academy, 12:30 p.m.; Guilderland vs. Shaker, 2 p.m.; Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake vs. Catholic Central, 3:30 p.m.; Hoosick Falls vs. Maple Hill, 5 p.m.; Glens Falls vs. Gloversville, 6:30 p.m.; Albany Academy at Green Tech, 8 p.m.
Cool Insuring Arena
Hoosic Valley vs. Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville, 11 a.m.; Stillwater vs. Cohoes, 12:30 p.m.; Green Tech vs. Shenendehowa, 2 p.m.; Albany Academy vs. Park School, 3:30 p.m.; Hoosick Falls vs. Lake George, 5 p.m.; Glens Falls vs. Amsterdam, 6:30 p.m.