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OFA, Massena set up third basketball showdown

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POTSDAM — Northern Athletic Conference Central Division rivals Ogdensburg Free Academy and Massena will meet for a third time Saturday, this time with the Section 10 boys basketball overall championship at stake.

OFA (20-1 overall) defeated Massena twice during the regular season and will try for a third victory at 4 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Potsdam.

Class A champion Massena (16-4) earned its spot in the title game with a 45-42 win over Class C championship Tupper Lake in a semifinal at SUNY Potsdam. The Blue Devils, who won the Class B title, routed Class D champion Madrid-Waddington 82-32 in the other overall semifinal.

All four teams will compete in the state playoffs.

MASSENA 45, TUPPER LAKE 42

The Massena Central boys basketball team survived a tale of two halves against Tupper Lake in the second overall semifinal.

“We played all right at times in the first half but we didn’t play very well in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter,” Massena coach Tom Miller said. “We’re very fortunate to be walking away with the win.”

Senior forward Xavier Viskovich scored six of his team-high 17 points in the first quarter where the Red Raiders built an 11-5 lead on a 3-pointer by senior Rhoades Tarbell with 2 minutes, 44 seconds remaining.

After a basket by Tupper Lake’s Mitch Keniston to open the second quarter, the Red Raiders fired through three straight 3-pointers in building a 20-7 lead. They went on to settle for a 26-13 halftime advantage and outscored the Lumberjacks 9-6 over the first four minutes of the third quarter to go ahead 35-18.

But the Raider offense struggled in scoring just 10 more points over the final 12 minutes of regulation while Tupper Lake got a quick boost off the bench from Nash Botala, who netted four straight points over a 30-second stretch late in the third quarter. Then starting guard Anson Gagnier capped a personal 13-point third-quarter outburst with a high-arcing launch from well beyond the 3-point line to cut the deficit to 41-32.

Gagnier, who led all scorers with 22 points, opened the fourth quarter by burying his fourth 3-pointer of the game. The Raiders countered with back-to-back field goals, the second by freshman Dante Viskovich with 6:25 remaining that pushed the lead back up to 45-35. The Massena offense went the rest of the game without scoring while the Lumberjacks gradually worked their way to a one possession game when a 3-pointer by Morgan Stevens cut the deficit to 45-42 with 1:56 left.

The Lumberjacks (14-7) twice had chances to pull to within one in the final minutes but missed a lay-up attempt and saw a mid-range jumper rattled in and out. Their final possession saw a 3-point attempt hit the rim, bounce straight up and drop back down onto the outside of the cylinder. From there, the Raiders were able to hold possession as time ran out.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game but we weren’t playing physical enough in the first half,” said Tupper Lake coach Steve Kiff. “In the second, we were much more aggressive inside and we started to knock down some outside shots.”

Freshman Dante Viskovich tallied 10 points for Massena and Keniston finished with 10 for Tupper Lake.

OFA 82, MADRID-WADDINGTON 32

OFA continued its magical ride with a victory over Madrid-Waddington duplicating the elements of their previous 19 victories. Constant double teams and pressure kept the Yellowjackets from scoring. Offensively, the Blue Devils scored off lightning transition sequences, lay-ins off interior passing and strong putbacks.

Kinnon LaRose (5 assists) was involved in all of the above as he tallied 11 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter and netted seven in the third.

Seth Pinkerton (4 steals) was a force as a starter and finisher on the fastbreak, scoring 13 points over the course of the second and third quarters and buried a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Matt Piercey added 10 points and five assists.

“This was just another outstanding team effort tonight and defensive pressure was strong from the start,” OFA coach Mark Henry said. “Seth Pinkerton really had a great game rebounding and running the floor and Al Fisher gave us great minutes off the bench. We had some problems taking care of the ball early. We will have to take of care of that as we move on.”

Aaron Armstrong led Madrid-Waddington (13-10) with 12 points and Jacob Barney, a first team All-NAC East selection, delivered six points, four steals and six rebounds.

“OFA is really a well-oiled machine and I think playing them will definitely help us in the states,” said Madrid-Waddington coach Aaron Jones. “At halftime I told the guys to concentrate on things that we could control like boxing out. In that respect we played much better in the second half.”

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