Dedication to defense allowed a promising, young Potsdam team to enjoy a strong second half of the NAC Central season and reach the Section 10 Class B Championship game opposite number two state-ranked OFA on Saturday.
But the Sandstoners defense was never a factor on Saturday at SUNY Canton as OFAs overplaying man-to-man pressure dictated the action from the first possession and the 19-1 Central Division champion Devils cruised to their 19th straight win in a 90-28 decision.
A decision which gave the Devils back-to-back sectional titles and their programs 10th title in 14 years.
Seth Pinkerton opened the scoring with a layup off a steal and the Devils, who scored the first 17 points, followed by forcing two inbounds violations and held the Stoners without a shot for the first three minutes.
Kinnon LaRose buried three threes in the first quarter and used his coast-to-coast capabilities to score 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first half. He also grabbed 13 rebounds on the night and passed out seven assists leading the Devils selfless offense where the open man is always the go-to guy.
Kinnon LaRose is just an amazing player and nobody works harder than he does in the summer, said Matt Piercey who used his crafty penetrating abilities to score 12 points and pass out four assists in a winning offense which also featured: a season-high 15 points from Jack Manke who grabbed eight rebounds, 12 points from Colin Ross who tallied seven in the third quarter and eight points from backup center Al Fisher who blocked four shots.
Mitchel Barber added four fourth quarter points to the post production and DaKota Brady and Jon Rogers each scored two points.
This was definitely one of our best overall games of the season. It was one of our best defensive efforts and we only had four turnovers, said OFA Coach Mark Henry.
Kinnon LaRose was just outstanding, Matt Piercey continues to see everything at the point and Jack Manke had his best game of the season. Its all about team, team, team.
A team that was put together in elementary school and one which draws strength from its chemistry, awareness and focus.
On Saturday the focus was the fast start.
We were really ready to go tonight and coach Henry preaches defense, defense, defense. We were playing on the college court and everyone was here. The big crowd and the atmosphere really got us going, said Piercey. We have played together so long that everyone knows where everybody is and what everybody is doing all of the time. This season has been the most fun of any in my life and I cant wait to see how it plays out in the state tournament. We would love to make a run to the Final Four.
The Devils state tournament experience will begin on March 4 at Troy High against the Section 2 Champion.
But first the Devils have their sights set on repeating as Overall Section 10 Champions and that title defense will open with a 5:30 p.m. matchup with Class D Champion Madrid-Waddington on Wednesday at SUNY Potsdam.
After the NAC Boys Basketball Awards Presentation Class A Champion Massena will meet Class C Champion Tupper Lake for the other berth in Saturdays 4 p.m. overall championship game.
Dequan Pitts netted five points for Potsdam (10-10) and Connor Prosper netted four. Nick Vaccaro, Matt Stone and Brian Cole each hit three pointers and Jacob Mitchell, Jack Byrnes, Garrett Mattimore, Drew Stevens and Ethan Van Blommestien all added field goals.
We had a great game today against a good team. Potsdam will be back next year, said Henry.