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Previewing regional finals

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The Ogdensburg Free Academy and Madrid-Waddington Central Boys Basketball programs and the Hammond Girls Basketball program have all enjoyed a great deal of success in regional finals action.

The Blue Devils, Yellowjackets and Lady Red Devils will all be looking to enhance their programs’ legacies on Saturday by earning trips to the New York State Final Four with a win. All three teams will enter the regional finals with top five state rankings.

OFA will host Watervliet at 3:30 p.m. in the third game of the day at SUNY Potsdam. Massena (vs Troy High) and Salmon River (vs Watervliet) will host the Class A and Class B Girls regional finals at Noon and 1:45 p.m.

M-W and Hammond will be looking to advance in contests at Section 2 venues against undefeated and number one ranked Class D opponents.

Coach Mark Henry will be looking to lead OFA to its fifth Class B Final Four appearance since the state went to five classes in 2004. The four previous Final 4 appearances came in a five-year span from 2004 to 2008 under New York State Hall of Fame Coach Bill Merna.

Potsdam carried the Section 10 banner to Glens Falls in 2010 and 2011.

Madrid-Waddington is looking for a second straight Final 4 appearance under Coach Aaron Jones. The Jackets took the Section 10 torch from Chateaugay which reached Glens Falls in 2011, 2009, 2008 (won state championship), and 2007. Chateaugay also qualified in 2000 and Harrisville qualified in 2002.

Coach Shawn Dack, who has compiled a 320-74 record at Hammond, is looking to lead a Lady Devil squad to the Final Four for a sixth time and the first since four straight runs in 2006-2009 which included back-to-back state titles in 2007-2008. The 2001-2002 Devil squad also made the Final Four. Madrid-Waddington, Chateaugay Heuvelton and Harrisville have also reached the Girls Class D Final Four in recent years.

CLASS B BOYS

(3:30 p.m. SUNY Potsdam)

OFA (21-1) vs Watervliet (15-8): The fans at SUNY Potsdam will be treated to a very athletic and skillful matchup of players.

OFA enters the game riding an 18-game winning streak and a number four state ranking. Third ranked Watervliet, which incurred five forfeit losses because of an ineligible player, used a 16-4 run to subdue a game upset bid by Section 7 Champion Beekmantown 53-37 on Tuesday in its seventh straight win.

The Blue Devils and Cannoneers are comparable in size and both thrive in transition created off their relentless man-to-man defenses. Both teams also protect the ball extremely well. That creates the possibility of an open floor shootout or a grind-it-out contest in the style of OFA’s Class B title win over Potsdam (46-36) and the victory of Massena (62-54) in the overall Section 10 Championship.

Watervliet is led by the explosive backcourt combination of Jordan Gleason, a 23.2 points per game scorer who has committed to accept a basketball scholarship at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., and Tyler McLeod.

Gleason and McLeod combined to score 19 and 16 points in Tuesday’s win over Beekmantown where 6’ 7” center Keegan Ryan kept his team contention by scoring 19 points through three quarters. Ty’Jon Gilbert tallied 18 points with six rebounds in the Section 2 title game.

“Watervliet has two very good guards. Jordan Gleason (68 3s) is more of a shooter while Tyler McLeod (6’ 3”) attacks the rim and gets to the free throw line,” said OFA Coach Mark Henry.

“We need to slow the two guards down, rebound and of course defend.”

The Devils counter with a much more balanced offense which is founded upon the unselfish passing abilities of a cast which features multiple ballhandling and three-point shooting options.

Breton LaRose, the NAC Central MVP and 2013 Joe Jukoski Award recipient, averages 18.5 points with 43 three’s, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Extremely versatile Kinnon LaRose has buried 37 three’s while averaging 11 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Matt Piercey buried 33 3’s while averaging 11 points and 5.3 assists per game. Pat Cosmo has hit 18 3’s while averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 assists per game and invaluable sixth man Colin Ross has contributed 12 3’s while scoring 6.8 points per game.

Center Jack Manke, the team’s tallest player at 6’ 5””. averages 3.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and Cavan LaRose, who missed much of the season with a knee injury, averages 4.4 points per game.

Breton and Cavan LaRose will also planning to continue their athletic careers at Sacred Heart in fall.OFA opened its season with win over two Section 2 teams Shenendehoah and New Hartford.

(noon Adirondack Community College)

Hammond (21-2) vs Fort Edward (21-0): The No. 3 state-ranked Red Devils are making their second straight trip to the regional finals and looking to reverse a loss to Section 2 Champion Argyle last year. Fort Edwards claimed the Section 2 title by erasing a nine-point deficit in the first half to post a 57-51 win over Fort Ann.

“Fort Edward is undefeated, they have a lot of seniors and they play good man-to-man defense,” says Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.

“But we can’t afford to worry about them. We also have a lot of good players and seniors and we have to concentrate on playing our game.”

The Lady Devils will look to pick up from Tuesday’s win over Section 7 Champion Elizabethtown-Lewis 47-31 where they took control at the opening tip.

After relying on Alyssa Crosby to carry a huge scoring burden in the Section 10 Class D 2 (28 points vs Chateaugay) and overall Class D Championship game (24 points against Heuvelton) the Lady Devils produced a very balanced offensive effort attacking the E-L zone defense.

An offensive effort which featured nine three-pointers. Crosby (10 rebounds) hit three in the first half and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, forward Gabby Marshall (9 rebounds) buried one in each quarter scoring 10 points and guard Courtney Bova netted two threes in the third quarter in a 10-point effort.

Crosby and Marshall also combined for 10 and nine rebounds and Emily Bush supplied a timely nine interior points for the Devils who matched their season defensive average limiting E-L to 31 points. Brianne Langtry gives the Devils another versatile senior performer and Makayla Horton has shown the ability to provide a perimeter scoring spark from the bench.

Cassi Whalen and Hailey Ogden provide size and rebounding from the reserve ranks.

Seniors Sam Godfrey and Taylor Boucher average 12 points a game as the Fort Edward scoring leaders. Godfrey finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Flying Forts and Boucher scored 13 points.

CLASS D BOYS

(4 p.m. Hudson Falls High School)

Madrid-Waddington (17-7) vs Argyle (21-0): A rematch of last year’s regional final, which propelled M-W to the NYS Final 4, will see the Yellowjackets going up against a no. 1 ranked Scots’ squad which has been priming for this game since losing in an electrifying finish at SUNY Potsdam a year ago.

“Everyone knows about Joey Lufkin and that they have a lot of good players,” said M-W Coach Aaron Jones after his no.5 ranked Yellowjackets used their defense to ignite an rally from an 11-point deficit midway in the third quarter to claim a 49-46 win over Section 7’s Moriah on Tuesday.

“But we also have a lot of good players and our guys are really excited about the challenge of playing Argyle”.

To continue their amazing postseason run the Jackets also had to hit clutch jump shots in the fourth quarter until Greg Thompson turned a steal into a layup for the eighth and final lead change of the fourth quarter with 29.6 seconds remaining.

Colin O’Bryan (13.8 points, 5.1 rebound, 5.5 assists per game) provided classic floor leadership in the fourth quarter.

Thompson averages 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while Richard Wright averages 11.3 points a game complemented by the knack for the big steal. Maurice Rease has emerged as a key postseason performer on both sides of the ball and his quickness could become an important factor against Argyle’s vaunted transition game.

Argyle used a 15-0 run in the third quarter and a 12-3 run in the fourth to key 63-49 win over Loundonville Christian in the Section 2 Championship game. Lufkin, the Scots’ 2000-point scorer who is averaging 33.5 points per game, tallied 26 points in the contest and fellow guard Brock Liddle (6 points, 5 steals) scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half.

The Scots, whose tallest player is 6’ 3” junior forward Delsharay Pryce (11.3 ppg, were outrebounded by 19-2 Loudonville Christian (36-28).

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