PLATTSBURGH - Members of the OFA Basketball team have been wearing t-shirts all season preaching Rise To the Occasion
They have brought the slogan to court each game and added an exclamation point.
Part of Rising to the Occasion is an uncanny ability to avoid any letdowns.
On Saturday the 22-1 and number two state-ranked Devils recorded their 22nd straight win with an all-business 92-49 victory over Section 7 Plattsburgh High School at SUNY Plattsburgh.
A victory which propelled Coach Mark Henrys team into the New York State Final Four at the Glens Falls Civic Center and into a potentially epic matchup with undefeated and top-ranked Section 3 Champion Syracuse Westhill on Friday night at 8:30 p.m.
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 semi-final match will pit Section 1s ninth ranked Woodlands (18-5), which advanced past Southhampton 73-47, against fourth ranked Olean of Section 6 (19-3) which bested Section 5s Charlotte 75-52. It will be the fifth Final Four appearance by OFA and first since Coach Bill Merna led Devil quintets 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 1000 career points when he tallied his 15th point of the night in the third quarter.
Its pretty cool to reach 1000 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 1000-Point Club as a junior.
Tonight, we knew needed a win to get to Glens Falls. We knew we had to play tough and play good defense.
Unranked Plattsburgh entered the contest depleted as three regulars were suspended in a disciplinary action but hung very tough in the first quarter. Led by guard Garrett Frady they came firing on all cyclinders.
Frady buried two pull-up threes in a 10-point first quarter and three other Hornets connected on contested jumpers as PHS answered OFAs 27 points with 22.
The Devils continued to play with unflappable consistency with defense as the driving force and bolted away with a 31-8 second quarter sparked by sixth man Conor Hannan who buried a pair of threes scoring eight points.
LaRose, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals; passed the 1000-point plateau in an eight point third quarter 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.
(Garrett Frady) was a very good player and it was good for our guys to defend against him. said OFA Coach 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 4 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.
We wont do anything different as we go on. And it was a great feeling to see Kinnon get his 1000th point tonight. Eight players scored six points or more with Matt Piercey delivering 11 first half points and 10 assists, Jack Manke (9 rebounds) and Al Fisher combining for 13 and seven points in the post, Hannan finishing with 11 points and three threes, Seth Pinkerton converting for nine interior points and Jon Rogers dropping in six points.
Mitchel Barber and Ryan Adams added two points and DaKota Brady chipped in a free throw.
Henry called the Final 4 ticket a product of the teams work ethic and community support.
I feel so pleased for these boys because they have worked so hard forever, said Henry.
I need to thank the parents, Steve LaRose for coaching the AAU team, the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club and so many other people for their support.
Alex Follmer scored 10-first half points for PHS and Robert Matthews and Russell Serano followed with seven and five.