POTSDAM - Even he couldnt believe it.
But Zack Rusaws winning basket with 1.7 seconds left in regulation gave Massena a stunning 48-47 victory over Malone in Monday nights Class A championship at Maxcy Hall.
I did not think it was going in there at the end, But in the second half, they had started to fall for me, said Rusaw who took the Raiders on his back in the fourth quarter where he scored all 12 of his teams points for a game-total of 22, including a lay-up with 27 seconds left which gave Massena its first lead (46-45) since midway through the first quarter.
Mitch Gallagher put the Huskies back up on top with a lay-up with 12 seconds to play, but Rusaws high turnaround 10-footer, with a pair of Huskies draped all over him, kissed off the glass and in, just before the final buzzer.
Zach was actually really gassed, really tired, but he came up with some big baskets late, said Raider coach Tom Miller. Hes been a warrior all year and I couldnt be prouder of him.
Malone had defeated Massena by 59-38 and 75-61 during the regular season, but last night couldnt shake the Raiders who twice rebounded from nine-point deficits in the second half.
Gallagher, who scored 31 points in last years sectional victory over Massena, was held to just nine last night.
In the second half, we played great defense and we dominated the boards, said Rusaw (11 rebounds) who is part of a lanky Raider front line which goes 6-4, 6-5, 6-4. Our 2-3 zone was really good. Our size, were huge. Our record wasnt that great this year, but to win this makes our season. This feels awesome.
Massena (11-8) moves on to the Section 10 Tournament of Champions next week before entering the Class A state tournament on March 6 versus the Section 2 champion in a game to be played at Saratoga High School.
Also for the Raiders last night, Xavier Viskovitch tallied five points, eight rebounds and five assists; Joe Labelle scored eight points, Tyler Haas added seven points while Rhoades Tarbell contributed four points and seven boards.
Malone (17-2) saw its season end as Harvey Smith led the Huskies with 12 points and nine rebounds while Nate Monette matched Gallaghers point total with nine.
Its a tough loss for Malone. They had a great year. This is a one-game deal. I was on the losing end last year, said Miller whose Raiders had captured the Section 10 crown from 2007-2011 until last years loss.
Tonight they couldnt quite put us away. We got the ball inside much better in the second half. Were happy were moving on, he concluded.