CANTON Desperation may have motivated the seniors on the Massena boys basketball team but the two youngest players in the lineup proved to be the difference as the Raiders successfully defended their Section 10 Class A title with a 62-52 victory over Malone on Monday night at the SUNY Canton Fieldhouse.
Our four seniors did not want this to be their last game and all four of them came up big at one point of another but we had a couple of our younger guys who really stepped up with some big efforts tonight, said coach Tom Miller after his squad overcame a strong Huskies start to earn a second straight trip to the state tournament.
Malone came out and shot the ball very well in the first half ,but we made some defensive adjustments at halftime, Miller said. We also started to demonstrate much more patience on offense in the second half and things starting going more and more our way because of that.
Freshman Dante Viskovich, who has emerged as the leading scorer for the Raiders this winter, delivered 12 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, while sophomore Xavier Goyco connected for eight of the 10 points scored by the Raiders in the third quarter. Goyco had helped lead the Massena JVs to a share of the NAC Central Division regular season title but was pressed into service for the Class A final after classmate and starting varsity point guard Bailey LaBarge went down with an injury in practice last week. He also hit four of six free throw attempts in the closing stages of regulation to finish with 12 points.
Dante has been our leading scorer all year and he came up big in the fourth quarter tonight, Miller said. And how about our late-season JV call-up? When Bailey went down with the injury, we took a look at what we needed to do and instead of trying to shifts a bunch of guys into new roles, we decided to just go with the next point guard on our list and it was Xavier. He responded very well.
Senior forward Xavier Viskovich battled early foul trouble to contribute 10 points toward the win while classmate Tyler Haas struck for another nine, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half that knotted the score a 28-28.
That three-pointer at the end of the second quarter was big for them, said Malone coach Tim Lamay. It gave them momentum going into halftime and they kept it going in the second half.
Our guys came out and played well in the first half but had trouble scoring in the second, Lamay added. We missed open shots from the floor and we missed a lot of free throws. We just picked a bad night not to shoot the ball well.
Chris Pourpore anchored the Malone scoring with 14 points followed by Kody Mulverhill with 10 and Jordan Yando with nine.
The Huskies opened the scoring and never trailed in the first quarter. They went ahead 16-9 with 2:32 left but five straight points by Dante Viskovich closed the game to 16-14 before a late free throw by Poupore put Malone ahead 17-14 at the end of the opening frame.
The Huskies were able to maintain their lead through all but the final second of the second quarter where 3-pointer by Mulverhill made it 26-21 with 2:53 remaining, but senior Rhoades Tarbell started a 7-2 Massena run with his only field goal of the night 11 seconds later and Haas soon followed with a free throw.
Neither team scored again until Poupore struck with 33 seconds left to make it 28-25. The Raiders worked the ball down the court on the ensuing in-bounds and got it back to Haas at the top of the arc and he made no mistake, burying his 3-point attempt just ahead of the buzzer to tie the game.