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Mekeel wins with big second half

Mekeel wins with big second half

Clutch shots, defense spark victory over La Salle
Mekeel wins with big second half
Mekeel Christian Academy junior Ozzie DeJesus drives for two of his 25 points Wednesday against La Salle.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCOTIA — Mekeel Christian Academy coach Chad Bowman is quick to call a timeout when something isn't right.

Wednesday night, he signaled for one of those stoppages in time when everything was going the Lions' way.

"We amped it up so much I had to call a timeout. It was so frenetic," Bowman said after Mekeel rallied for a 65-52 win against La Salle Institute. "That's one of the things I love these guys for. They give tremendous effort."

Mekeel got a pair of 3-point baskets from Mike Show early in the third quarter before its defense kicked into overdrive. Mekeel outscored La Salle 16-7 during that eight-minute stretch, and the Lions were never seriously threatened in the final frame.

"We ratcheted up our intensity," said Show, a sophomore guard. "Coach was saying we've go to do better on defense. They were 10-for-16 in the first half. We got out on their shooters and made them uncomfortable."

La Salle looked quite comfortable in building a 33-31 halftime lead. During one segment in the second quarter, the Cadets hit a trio of 3s in an 11-0 spurt when they went up 25-19.

"They got us out of our game, and that was the difference," La Salle coach Jon Desso said of the third quarter. "In the first half, we were executing very well, getting the ball inside. Much of our offense in the second half was one pass and a shot. We took a lot of threes. If I took eight timeouts, I don't know if I could have changed what was going on."

Show's 3-pointers, his third and fourth of the game, were the first of many good things that went Mekeel's way in that game-breaking third period.

"When Mike hit those threes for us, that got us amped up," said Mekeel sophomore forward Al Barnhill.

"That felt great," said Show, who finished with 13 points, one shy of his season high. "My teammates found me in great spots and, thankfully, they went in."

Ozzie DeJesus had three of his seven steals in the third quarter and eight of his 25 points. Collectively, Mekeel had eight steals in the third quarter.

"When we play defense, we're at our best," said DeJesus, a junior guard who also had six rebounds and six assists. "The reason we were able to beat Green Tech and Ballston Spa is because of our defense."

Mekeel, a revamped team from the one that claimed the state Class B title last season and is designated Class A this season, improved to 11-3 with its win over the Class AA Cadets (8-6). The Cadets were coming off an 80-point performance against Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk.

"That was a good, solid win for us against a solid AA team," Show said. "Good for our sectional seed. We're trying to get a top-four seed."

"La Salle is a good team," Bowman said. "They've got athletes. They jump well. They have senior leadership. They share the ball."

They couldn't crack Mekeel's defense, though, after that quality first half.

"The separation moment came when we went [from a 2-3 zone] to a 1-3-1," Bowman said. "They turned it over three times, and we got six quick points. We were up by four or five, and were able to extend it."

Barhilll scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, and Rickey Rollins added nine points off the Mekeel bench. Rollins' 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter gave the Lions a 50-40 lead, and their advantage grew to as many as 14.

"Mekeel can be scary the rest of the year," Desso said. "They've got a bunch of guys who can put the ball in the basket."

Seniors Luke Bourgault and Connor Cepiel paced La Salle with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Senior Sean Desharnais added nine points, four assists and three steals. Bourgnault had 10 of his points in the first half.


Bourgault 5-0-12, Cepiel 5-0-10, Desharnais 3-1-9, Van Roy 3-0-6, Dickson 1-0-2, Evans 4-0-8, Lucarelli 2-0-5. Totals: 23-1-52.


DeJesus 10-5-25, Rollins 2-3-9, Barnhill 4-4-14, Show 4-1-13, Winfield 2-0-4. Totals: 22-13-65.

La Salle 14 19 7 12 — 52

Mekeel 17 14 16 18 — 65

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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