ALBANY, NY - After Scotia-Glenville lost in a state regional game to Bishop Ludden to end last season, the Tartans as a whole admitted they never wanted to experience the feeling that they felt that night again. The players then together made the decision to practice at a local gym the very next day after that loss, in preparation of wanting to go all the way this season, and after taking down Holy Trinity 68-53 in the Class "A" Federation title game at Times Union Center, its mission accomplished.
It was a decision after that loss to Bishop Ludden last season that the whole summer they would stick together. They all played AAU basketball together on a travel team they called Scotia, traveling to tournaments like the Rumble in the Bronx in NYC, all for one goal, to win it all this season, which proved to head coach Jim Giammattei that this team was for real.
"The resilience and resolve of these guys was through the roof," Giammattei said. "When someone wants something that bad, it's awful hard to stop them."
Junior guard Joe Cremo said that there were lots of long hours and hard work, but they jointly had decided they wanted the State and Federation championships, and anything less would mean disappointment.
They had achieved the State title last weekend, and this weekend, it was all about completing the goal, and it was Holy Trinity who stood in the Tartans way.
Early on, Scotia held a lead, but they weren't doing the one thing that senior guard Alex Sausville said would be able to get them over the top.
"We needed to run more, and coach wanted us to run more," Sausville said. "We can score in the halfcourt, but to get going where our opponent can't get back on D is big for us, and that was what we wanted to do more of in the 2nd half.
The Tartans were up 38-31 at the half, and they were able to push the tempo a bit more in the 3rd, but Holy Trinity was able to stay within striking distance as behind a couple of threes by senior Peter Alkins, and a reverse layup by Jimmy Golaszewski late in the quarter cut it to a 49-44 game, but that is when Scotia took the game into their hands and flipped the momentum back to their side.
Cremo had the ball in his hands, but he was doubled near the top of the key and he said it was time for him to make a play to change the game.
"They were locking down on me a bit and I saw they were attached to Dom and Alex pretty good as well, but they left Scotty open and I know he is a dangerous shooter, and I would trust that kid shooting any shot possible, so I found him and he hit it," Cremo said.
Scotty is junior Scott Stopera, the 5'8" guard perched himself in the corner and Cremo found him, and he connected on a wide open three that pushed the lead to 52-44 after 3 and seemed to be a huge body blow to the Titans, and a play Giammattei said even he felt shifted the game.
"It was such a huge, huge momentum shift coming out of that, it was a great move by Joe, and Scott drifted out, and they play so much together, they just know where the other will be, so Scott got open and knocked it down."
It seemed to rock Holy Trinity too as Cremo connected on a bucket while getting fouled to open the quarter to put the Tartans up 11, and it really just took off from there for Scotia.
Giammattei said Cremo, in those tense moments where it was still either team's game, played like a future Division 1 player should play, making every play that needed to be made. Cremo and senior Dom Leporta kept adding to the lead for Scotia-Glenville as the lead expanded to as many as 19 in the 4th as it seemed the Tartans had full control, and they did, as Titans head coach Joe Conefry emptied out his bench down 17 late in the 4th, and the loud pro-Scotia crowd in Albany started to sense it, and they cheered in celebration when the final whistle sounded, giving the Tartans everything they wanted, a Federation Title, to go along with their State Title, taking down Holy Trinity, 68-53.
Cremo had a game high 24 points along with 10 rebounds, while Leporta and Sausville added 15 and 12 respectively for Scotia-Glenville.
In the loss, Trinity was led by Alkins 13 points, with Golaszewski chipping in with 11.
It's truly mission accomplished for the Tartans, whose hard work and dedication has officially paid off in full. Cremo said it's a moment now that the team and Scotia community as a whole will remember forever, but as a senior, Sausville said that it's something he couldn't even really put into words.
"It's unbelievable. It's a feeling and moment I will never forget. We went unbeaten, we won everything we could win, and to go out on top, it's the most incredible feeling in the world."