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Mekeel boys' basketball reaches final four

Mekeel boys' basketball reaches final four

Bouchard sparks Gloversville
Mekeel boys' basketball reaches final four
Ozzy DeDesus of Mekeel Christian Academy is defensed by Amsterdam's Peyton Ausfeld in Sunday's playoff game.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

TROY — When Mekeel Christian Academy put Amsterdam away Sunday with a big third-quarter run, Ozzy DeJesus chipped in with a couple of layups.

"Coming into the game, my mentality was, 'I have a goal,'" the senior said after his team's 84-49 Section II Class A quarterfinal win. "Everything is business from now until we're done."

DeJesus hopes that's a long way off, after a successful playoff run by the Lions. Step one was Sunday at Hudson Valley Community College against a group of teenagers  that DeJesus knows well and a varsity team he played for as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Mekeel.

"I know every single one of them," DeJesus said. "From the coaching staff down to the last player. They were in our way of something we're after."

Mekeel (No. 1 seed, 18-2) has designs on a second Section II championship in three years. Two other No. 1-seeded teams that had high hopes, Class B Catskill and Class C Voorheesville, are no longer around.

"You have ones and twos getting knocked out all over the place," Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said. "That gave us some talking points."

The Mekeel players obviously listened. They never trailed Sunday after a quick 6-0 spurt to start the game, and responded with a 15-0 third-quarter surge after Amsterdam (No. 8, 11-11) clawed within 47-46.

"We talked about coming out strong," DeJesus said. "Coach said, 'Let's not be another No. 1 seed to get knocked out.'"

DeJesus did his part with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

"Ozzy distributed the ball well tonight," Bowman said. "He got everyone involved."

Alex Barnhill, the sixth man on Mekeel's 2018 team that used its Section II Class B title as a springboard to a state championship, scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half, snared 10 rebounds and added four steals. His first-half production featured two slam dunks, one coming of them on an alley-opp pass from DeJesus.

"We know the feeling of a loss," Barnhill, a junior, said in reference to Mekeel's semifinal setback against Troy in last year's Class A tournament. "We don't want it to happen. The goal is to lift the plaque at the end."

Mekeel will take on Gloversville Thursday in a semifinal game at 6:30 p.m. at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Gloversville beat Queensbury earlier Sunday 59-55.

"Gloversville showed grit," Bowman said. "They showed how much they wanted to be there [in the semifinals]. We know they're going to come to play."

Amsterdam came to play, yet Mekeel, the state's No. 3-ranked squad, had all the answers.

"That's why pulling off an upset is called pulling off an upset," Amsterdam coach Tim Jones said. "A lot of things have got to go well."

Amsterdam outscored Mekeel 9-4 to begin the third quarter and get within 47-36. Cayden Graveley scored seven of those points, and the senior topped the Rams with 19.

"They could have mailed it in. We battled back, and it was them," Jones said of his cast of seniors. "I'm proud of my guys. They played all the way through."

Amsterdam defeated Mohonasen 59-57 in a first-round tournament game before running into Mekeel.

Ricky Rollins had 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Mekeel. Jonon White had 12 points and three of the Lions' 10 steals.

"We talked about turnovers," Jones said. "You can't turn the ball over against them. Too talented."

GLOVERSVILLE WINS

Gloversville avenged its two Foothills Council losses to Queensbury earlier Sunday, but it took a second-half rally to get it done and get back to the Class A final four.

Gloversville (No. 4, 19-3) got 31 points from Dante Bouchard, with 21 coming in the second half. Bouchard's 13 third-quarter points included a 7-for-7 showing from the line, and he sank two big 3s in the fourth quarter. The senior guard boosted his career points total to 2,068, which is 11th on the all-time Section II list behind former Watervlet star Kevin Yanni (2,085).

Joey Rowback had 15 points for the Dragons, and Kayden Ruggeri collected 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Bryce Bleibtrey paced Queensbury (No. 5, 16-6) with 14 points.

Gloversville overcame a 33-25 halftime deficit to earn a return trip to the semifinals where, a year ago, it beat Mohonasen before a title game loss to Troy.

In the other Class A quarterfinals Sunday, Lansingburgh (No. 3, 18-3) defeated Hudson Falls 83-48, and Averill Park (No. 2, 14-7) held off Troy 48-44.

Lansingburgh showed no signs of a 16-day break between games, seizing command with a 46-23 first-half run. Four Knights reached double scoring figures led by Ken Allison and Scott Teta with 15 points apiece. Jonathan Beagle scored 24 points for Hudson Falls (No. 6, 13-9).

Matt Lettko sank a clinching free for Averill Park with 4.1 seconds left, and finished with 11 points, four assists and four steals. Michael Re had 10 points, and Ben Romer and Vinny Carucci both contributed nine, for balanced Averill Park.

Jadon Cummings scored 19 points for Troy (No. 7, 10-12), which went on a 20-5 fourth-quarter run to get within 45-44 late before the Warriors closed the game out at the line.

Lansingburgh and Averill Park will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. at Cool Insuring Arena.

MEKEEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 89, AMSTERDAM 49

Amsterdam 11 16 9 13 — 49

Mekeel 21 22 19 22 — 84

Amsterdam scoring: Colon 2-0-6, Graveley 8-2-19, Ausfeld 1-0-2, Vasquez 2-2-6, Perez 2-0-4, Douglas 1-0-2, Thompson 4-0-10. Mekeel scoring: Rollins 7-0-16, Banks 4-0-9, DeJesus 4-4-12, White 4-4-12, Skeeter 2-0-5, Barnhill 11-6-30. Scoring totals: Amsterdam 20-4-49, Mekeel 32-14-84.

GLOVERSVILLE 59, QUEENSBURY 55

Queensbury 15 18 12 10 — 55

Gloversville 11 14 19 15 — 59

Queensbury scoring: Gilligan 2-0-4, Bleibtrey 5-2-14, Collins 4-1-12, Rodriguez 4-2-11, Slattery 1-0-3, Johnson 2-1-7, Conlon 2-0-4. Gloversville scoring: Bouchard 9-10-31, Ruggeri 4-0-10, Rowback 5-5-15, Jones 0-3-3. Scoring totals: Queensbury 20-6-55, Gloversville 18-18-59.

LANSINGBURGH 83, HUDSON FALLS 48

Hudson Falls 13 10 11 14 — 48

Lansingburgh 22 24 20 17 — 83

Hudson Falls scoring: Swartz 3-0-7, Maddison 1-2-5, A. Hogan 2-0-5, Beagle 6-12-24, J. Hogan 2-0-4, Smith 1-1-3. Lansingburgh scoring: Allison 5-5-15, McFarlane 4-0-8, Knight 5-0-11, Teta 6-0-15, Tario 5-0-12, Lapham 1-0-2, Gerido 2-1-5, Ward 1-0-3, Walker 1-0-3, Cortez-Wilson 1-0-2, Wallace 3-1-7. Scoring totals: Hudson Falls 15-15-48, Lansingburgh 34-7-83.

AVERILL PARK 48, TROY 44

Troy 5 11 8 20 — 44

Averill Park 9 15 16 8 — 48

Troy scoring: Cruel 1-1-3, Wolfe 3-1-8, Butler 0-2-2, Hamby 3-2-10, Cummings 6-7-19, Shambo 1-0-2. Averill Park scoring: Pascarella 1-0-3, Romer 3-2-9, Lettko 3-4-11, Long 1-3-6, Carucci 4-0-9, Re 5-0-10. Scoring totals: Troy 14-13-44, Averill Park 17-9-48.

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