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Massena boys survive Tupper Lake challenge in overall hoops semis

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POTSDAM - The Massena Central boys basketball team survived a tale of two halves against Tupper Lake in the Section 10 Overall tournament semi-finals on Wednesday at SUNY Potsdam’s Jerry Welsh Gymnasium.

“We played alright at times in the first half but we didn’t play very well in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. We’re very fortunate to be walking away with the win,” said coach Tom Miller after the Class A champion Raiders steadily worked their way to a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter before holding on to claim a 45-42 decision over the Class C champion Lumberjacks.

“But give Tupper Lake all the credit. They played hard right to the end and didn’t pack it in when we got up by 17 points. They showed a great deal of heart,” Miller added.

With the win, Massena improved to 16-4 and advanced to the overall final against Class B champion OFA, which earned a chance to defend the tournament title by pulling away to an 82-32 win over Class D champion Madrid-Waddington in the first game of the night at Maxcy Hall. The overall final is slated for Saturday at 4 p.m. back at Jerry Welsh Gym.

“A win is a win. Now we have to get ready for Ogdensburg and we’re going to need a stellar effort to have a chance on Saturday,” Miller noted.

Senior forward Xavier Viskovich scored six of his team-high 17 points in the first quarter where the Raiders built an 11-5 lead on a three-pointer by senior Rhoades Tarbell with 2:44 remaining. That turned out to be the final points of the opening frame.

After a basket by Tupper Lake’s Mitch Keniston to open the second quarter, the Raiders fired through three straight three-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, and starting guard Anson Gagnier, who capped a persoal 13-point third-quarter outburst with a high-arching launch from well beyond the three-point line the hit nothing by net as the buzzer sounded to cut the deficit to 41-32.

Gagnier, who led all scorers with 22 points, opened the fourth quarter by burying his fourth three-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 three-pointer by Morgan Stevens cut the deficit to 45-42 with 1:56 left.

The Lumberjacks 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 three-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. In the second, we were much more aggressive inside and we started to knock down some outside shots,” said Tupper Lake coach Steve Skiff.

“I’m very pleased with the way we played in the second half. We put ourselves in position to pull out the win and even though we didn’t get it, this is still a good stepping stone to the next game for us,” he added.

The next game for the Lumberjacks (14-7), who earned their first Class C title since returning to Section 10 for the 2003-04 season, is next Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Maxcy Hall against the winner of the Section 7 final between Ticonderoga and Seton Catholic.

Freshman Dante Viskovich tallied 10 points in the winning effort while senior Tyler Haas and junior Zevon Viskovich added seven points apiece and junior Logan Deshane accounted for the other two.

Keniston finished with 10 points while Roger Delair netted three foul shots to close out the Tupper Lake scoring.

OFA 82, M-W 32: The Blue Devils (20-1) ran out to a 26-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back as Kinnon LaRose, who later shared the Joe Jukoski Award as the Outstanding Boys Basketball player in Section 10 with Brandon Votra of St. Regis Falls, anchored the OFA offense with 22 points. Seth Pinkerton struck for another 16 followed by Matt Piercey with 10 and Colin Ross with eight.

Aaron Armstrong paced the three-time Class D champion Yellowjackets (13-10) with 12 points. Jacob Barney added six followed by Alex Hammond and Dakota Matthie with four apiece.

The Yellowjackets return to action on Saturday, March 8, when they host a state quarter-final game at SUNY Canton against the winner of a first round matchup between the Section 2 and Section 7 champions starting at 1:45 p.m.






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