The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville boys basketball team poses on the court at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, on March 2, after beating Germantown, 47-25, to win the Section II Class D championship game.Paul Antonelli/For the Express
By PAUL ANTONELLI
For the Express
GLENS FALLS – A Section II Class D boys basketball championship game was played at the Cool Insuring Arena on March 2, but for Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville head coach Jason Brundage and his players, a soccer game played back on Oct. 30 was still fresh in their minds.
It was that day that OESJ was just 30.1 seconds away from doing something no Section II Class D boys soccer team had done since 2009 – eliminate the Fort Ann Cardinals from the sectional tournament.
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With the Wolfpack protecting a 1-0 lead in that game, Fort Ann was awarded a controversial penalty kick and converted to tie the game before handing OESJ a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in overtime.
“That was a tough loss in the soccer sectionals,” Brundage said. “We just wanted to come here and make things right.”
Not only did the Wolfpack make things right, they did so in a manner that resulted in one of the most dominating defensive performances in recent sectional history — blasting Germantown 47-25. It marked the first sectional title for the program since the merger between the two schools. St. Johnsville last won the title back in 2007. OESJ had lost in the basketball sectional final in two of the last three years.
“The kids buy in to what we are teaching,” Brundage said. “We weren’t intimidated playing on the big floor. This was our third game here and we also played games at Herkimer County Community College and Fulton-Montgomery Community College. We try to schedule as many games on the big floor as we can.”
How good was OESJ’s matchup zone defense? Well, they allowed just two field goals over the final 19 minutes of the game. Both of Germantown’s second-half field goals came in the third quarter. Overall, the Clippers shot only 8-for-39 from the floor and connected on just 3-of-20 from 3-point range.
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“We tried to take the focus off the lack of offense to what we were doing right on defense,” Brundage said. “We wanted to confuse them with matchup zones and we did that. That’s our secret. I’m not going to tell you what we did. We run different version of zones. Credit goes to the kids.”
Offensively, tournament Most Valuable Player Tyler Leon led top-seed OESJ with a game-high 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field and pulled down 14 rebounds, including five on the offensive side.
“This was payback for soccer sectionals,” said Leon who was a defender on the team. “We talked about doing this all basketball season.”
Leon, a 6-foot-4 senior, was also the recipient of post-game praise from his head coach.
“I’m an old school guy and Tyler is an old school player,” said Brundage whose team held a 19-16 halftime advantage. “Tyler shows up for every practice and every game with a lunchbox. The old school people will understand that.”
Inside that lunchbox on Saturday was a ham sandwich that was devoted at halftime and gave Leon a boost like Popeye on spinach in the second half.
Leon scored 14 of OESJ’s 28 second-half points as the Wolfpack cruised to improve to 20-3. Germantown, seeded second, finished at 16-6.
Fmascreendashboards.jpg xtuple open source erp for mac downloads. Jack Brundage added nine points and 10 assists, Travis LaFountain had eight points and six rebounds and Jayden Logan-Dillenbeck finished with seven points and six rebounds for the Wolfpack.
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Bryan Bathrick led Germantown with nine points and 11 rebounds.
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The Wolfpack will next play this coming Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College against Section VII champion Wells, with the winner advancing to the state final four the following weekend in Binghamton.