ALBANY, NY - The Federation Class "A" Boys Semifinal on Friday at the Times Union Center in Albany between locals products Scotia-Glenville and Albany Academy was so highly anticipated that Federation officials made the decision to shift the game from 11:45am to 8:30pm to accommodate the demand. In the end, 4,197 people came to watch Scotia, behind the 22 points and 11 rebounds of junior guard Joe Cremo, pull away late for a 70-57 victory.
Early on, Scotia came out a bit sluggish, missing all 4 threes they took in the opening quarter, and while it looked like they were nervous, Tartans head coach Jim Giammattei said that he felt it was just the opposite.
"Today was the first time we have ever played here in the Times Union Center, and for a local school here, that's a big deal," Giammattei said. "I felt as if we were too hyped if anything, and we needed to calm down and get in a rhythm."
While they trailed 15-10 to Albany Academy after 1, with Cadets junior guard Ray Jerome burning the nets in the opening minutes, it seemed that the Tartans found their bearings in the 2nd quarter, as they outscored Albany Academy 26-12 in the quarter, with Cremo attacking the basket, scoring in a variety of ways, while fellow wing, senior Dom Lemorta knocked down a pair of threes, and finished the half with 12 points to see Scotia-Glenville take a 36-27 lead at the half.
As they had a 9 point lead at the half, the attention started to be drawn to the record. Scotia came into the game 25-0, and with seniors in Lemorta, Alex Sausville, and Schuyler Sayles playing their final games, Cremo said it was important to send them out right.
"We have taken each game one at a time, but as we keep winning, we think about the fact we are undefeated, and I think we want to finish it off right, and send the seniors out the way they deserve," Cremo said.
To do that they would need a strong 2nd half, and while Jerome and junior point guard John Moutopoulos were able to get the deficit within 2 of a couple of occasions in the 3rd quarter, each time they did it seemed that Cremo had an answer. While the University of Albany commit has seen his scoring numbers go down as of late as Sausville, Lemorta, and junior Scott Stopera step up their games, Cremo said he felt coming into this one that he would be stepping up with a big performance.
"Teams are starting to really step out and guard Alex and Scott on the perimeter, and I felt like I would be able to take advantage of that if they did that today," Cremo explained.
Cremo ended up finishing the 3rd by scoring his teams last 8 points as the Tartans went up by 6, and they carried that momentum into the 4th as Scotia scored the first 10 of the final quarter to go up 57-41 before Albany Academy called a timeout with 6:19 to play in the game.
Moutopoulos did all he could to keep the Cadets in the game, scoring 10 points in the 4th, but the Scotia 3-2 zone limited what Albany Academy could do inside, and Scotia, though smaller, actually outrebounded the Cadets 30-25 in the game, as the Tartans pulled away, going up by as much as 17 late in the game before closing it out for the 70-57 win.
Cremo had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Tartans in the win, while Lemorta added 20, and the sharpshooting Sausville added 10.
Jerome had a team high 17 points for Albany Academy in the loss, while Moutopoulos chipped in with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
It was a big game against a local Section 2 rival, and Scotia really came up and brought out there A game, and Lemorta said that while they knew how big it was, they stayed composed and played their game, not straying from what they know, and it paid off.
"We ran our sets and trusted ourselves even when we struggled early on," Lemorta said. "We knew it would come if we stayed patient and stuck to what we do, and it did."
With the win, the Tartans are now 1 win away from winning both the NYSPHSAA State Championship, and the NYS Federation Championship, and while Giammattei said he doesn't know if and when the last time that happened, he hopes his team can do it, and believes they will be ready for what he believes is a tough Holy Trinity team from Long Island.
"Luckily we can go online and do things to get to know them a bit, and we will do that and make sure we are prepared, because it would be very special to finish unbeaten and send our seniors out on the right note," Giammattei said.
Cremo added that just the thought of becoming champions of Federation is special, which makes the game on Saturday afternoon at 5pm very important.
"We got one title, now we want to go out and get another."
Holy Trinity Roll Over W.H.E.E.L.S., 71-65
In the other Class "A" Federation semifinal, the Titans of Holy Trinity took control early on, leading by as many as 13 in the opening half, but W.H.E.E.L.S. junior guard Emile Lewis got hot in the 3rd quarter, connecting on 14 of his game high 31 points in the quarter as the Wolves took a 47-43 lead into to 4th.
While Lewis and W.H.E.E.L.S. seemed to have every shot fall in the 3rd, it was the backcourt duo of junior's Jack Sixsmith and Billy Sixsmith for Holy Trinity that knocked down 4 threes of their own when the Titans needed them most.
Senior forward Tyshawn Myles, who was held to no points and just 4 rebounds in the first half, had a solid second half, helping the Wolves control the glass, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but Holy Trinity junior wing Jimmy Golaszewski hit a big bucket on a baseline drive with 1:24 left in the game to put the Titans up 8 and seemingly put W.H.E.E.L.S. away.
The Wolves didn't quit, behind Lewis and senior guard Eddy Polanco, with each sending home late long jumpers, but Trinity was able to close it out from the FT line late to send them to the 6 point victory, and into the Federation Class "A" Championship game on Saturday night.
A balanced Holy Trinity scoring attack was led by the 15 points of Sixsmith, while Golaszewski and senior guard Peter Alkins added 14 a piece.
Lewis had 31 to pace W.H.E.E.LS. in the loss, while Polanco chipped in with 12 in defeat.
Long Island Lutheran Whiteout Green Tech, 68-52
The Crusaders pulled away in the 2nd half behind the 26 points and 15 rebounds of junior forward Marvin Prochet to ease past Green Tech, and gain a berth in the Federation Class "AA" Boys Championship game.
Junior guard Chris Atkinson scored 15 points, and added 4 assists for LuHi in the win, while senior forward Ramion Burt led the Eagles in defeat with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
Long Island Lutheran will now meet Christ the King in the Federation "AA" Championship game on Saturday at 8:30pm in what will be a rematch of last years title tilt which was won by the Royals in what should be another great "AA" championship matchup in the Federation Tournament.