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Massena boys take on Bishop Ludden tonight in state Class A hoops opener

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MASSENA - The Massena Central boys basketball team will be facing a tall order in the first round of the NYSPHSAA Class A playoffs, both literally and figuratively, as the Raiders head to Cicero-North Syracuse High School this evening to take on Section 3 champion Bishop Ludden starting at 7 p.m.

“I’ve been able to get some information about them and the first thing we’re going to have to deal with is their size. They are huge up front. We’ve got some pretty good height but not on the scale of what we’re going to be going up against tonight,” said coach Tom Miller.

“Bishop Ludden winning Section 3 is no surprise. They are perennially one of the stronger programs in the Syracuse area. They’ve got a great tradition and it sounds like they have a pretty solid team again this year,” he added.

The Raiders (16-5) defended their Section 10 Class A title with a 62-52 win over Franklin Academy more than two weeks again. They have since posted a 45-42 win over Class C champion Tupper Lake in the overall tournament semi-finals before dropping an 86-49 decision to Class B champion OFA in the title game this past Saturday at Jerry Welsh Gymnasium.

“We’re a little disappointed with the outcome of Saturday’s game,” noted Miller as the Raiders suffered their third defeat of the winter to the Blue Devils. “Ogdensburg is more of a perimeter-oriented team but Bishop Ludden is just the opposite. They’re absolutely and inside-outside type of team. Our big concern going into tonight’s game is rebounding. We’re really going to have to get on the glass,” he added.

Freshman guard Dante Viskovich has emerged as the leading scorer for the Raiders this winter averaging more than 13 points a game. Senior forward Xavier Viskovich averages 10.5 points per game. The Raiders have also gotten strong all-around contributions from seniors Rhoades Tarbell and Ryan Haas along with juniors Logan Deshane and Zevon Viskovich and sophomore Bailey LaBarge, who handles the bulk of the workload at point guard. Key contributors off the bench include senior Rory Corcoran along with juniors McCartney Countryman and Dan Wing. Sophomores Jacob Goyco, Xavier Goyco, who was pressed into service as starting point guard in the win over FA when LaBarge was sidelined with an injury, Nick McKeel and Bailey Terry have been called up to the varsity squad after aiding the junior Raiders to a share of the NAC Central Division regular season junior varsity banner.

The Gaelic Knights, who advanced to the state tournament by routing Jamesville-DeWitt 76-49 in the Section 3 final over the weekend, are led by Daniel Kaigler (17.4), who is considered one of the top players in the Syracuse area. Other key players for Bishop Ludden are Ben Hackett (13.4), Jack Rauch (11.9) and Zach Walser (10.4). Rauch reportedly suffered a serious ankle injury during the sectional playoffs and is not likely to play in tonight’s state tournament opener.

“They’re pretty big and they’re pretty athletic. They predominantly a zone team. They’re only possible weakness is they aren’t very deep,” said Miller.

“We’re capable of staying with them,” he added. “We’re going to go down and give it our best shot.”

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