PLATTSBURGH Members of the OFA boys basketball team have been wearing T-shirts all season that exclaim Rise to the Occasion.
They have brought the slogan to court each game and added an exclamation point.
On Saturday the No. 2 state-ranked Devils recorded their 22nd straight win with a business-like 92-49 victory over Section 7s Plattsburgh at SUNY Plattsburgh.
The victory propelled coach Mark Henrys team into the state semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center and into a potentially epic matchup with undefeated and top-ranked Section 3 champion Westhill at 8:30 p.m. Friday night.
Westhill (23-0) extended its season-long winning streak with a 56-53 overtime victory over previously undefeated and third-ranked Section 4 champion Norwich (20-1) on Saturday. The other semifinal match will pit Section 1s ninth-ranked Woodlands (18-5) against fourth-ranked Olean of Section 6 (19-3).
It will be the fifth Final Four appearance by OFA (22-1) and first since coach Bill Merna led Blue Devils teams to Glens Falls in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The game also featured a personal milestone for Kinnon LaRose, who became the seventh boys basketball player in school history to score 1,000 career points when he tallied his 15th point of the night in the third quarter.
Its pretty cool to reach 1,000 points but I really didnt have any idea that I was even close to it until one of my teammates told me, said LaRose who became the first OFA player to reach the 1,000-point club as a junior. Tonight, we knew we needed a win to get to Glens Falls. We knew we had to play tough and play good defense.
Unranked Plattsburgh entered the game depleted, as three regulars were suspended for disciplinary action, but hung very tough in the first quarter. Led by guard Garrett Frady, Plattsburgh answered OFAs 27 points with 22.
The Devils continued to play with unflappable consistency with defense the driving force and bolted away with a 31-8 second quarter sparked by sixth man Conor Hannan who buried a pair of threes and scored eight points.
LaRose, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals, scored eight points in the third where the Devils rang up a 25-8 margin.
He also took the lead role in the defensive effort by limiting Frady to two points during the 58-16 run over the middle quarters.
(Frady) was a very good player and it was good for our guys to defend against him. said Mark Henry after the quick and crafty Hornet guard finished off a game-high 22 points with nine in the fourth quarter.
Going to the Final Four is so great because we have all worked so hard, said OFAs Colin Ross who scored six of his 12 points in the first quarter.
Eight players scored six points or more with Matt Piercey delivering 11 first half points and 10 assists, and Hannan finishing with 11 points.
Henry called the semifinal appearance a product of the teams work ethic and community support.
I feel so pleased for these boys because they have worked so hard forever, he said.
Alex Follmer scored 10-first half points for Plattsburgh.