Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Breaking Down Wednesday's Semifinals

Since there are only so many places I can be at one time, I thought instead of trying to run everywhere for preview stories, I'd do a breakdown via capsule form on the upcoming semifinals.

Under the cut, you can check out the deal for Wednesday's games and then tomorrow I'll be back with Thursday's games. Plan your lives accordingly.

CLASS AA - at the Times Union Center
Columbia (13-7) vs. Guilderland (17-2), 6:30 p.m.
About Columbia: Elijah Lott and Jahlil Nails were once again the driving force behind Columbia's quarterfinal victory over Niskayuna on Saturday afternoon. But while the high-scoring pair has garnered most of the spotlight all season, watch out for the other three in the starting lineup. Stevie Hart, Justin Luther and Kevin Janowski are all valuable weapons and they've been stepping up their play over the past few games.
About Guilderland: The Dutchmen kept it close for awhile, but a pair of major three-point shots from William Floyd in the third quarter broke open the game as Guilderland cruised to a victory over CBA on Saturday. Keep an eye on Floyd in this one. When he gets in a rhythm, he's tough to slow down.
Notables: Just as it's been for Columbia all season, the key here is defense. The Blue Devils showed what they're capable on Saturday with a strong defensive effort against Niskayuna, but this Guilderland team is a totally different obstacle. The Dutchmen boast one of the most balanced offensive attacks in Section II and it's impossible to simply zero in one player to shut Guilderland down. If Columbia is going to punch a ticket to next week's championship game, the Devils are going to have to play balanced, focused defense. Don't be surprised if Columbia opens in a tough man-to-man, trying to force Guilderland into mistakes.

Green Tech (13-5) vs. Shenendehowa (18-2), 7 p.m. 
About Green Tech: Jamil Hood, Jr. racked up a game-high 21 points to lead the Eagles in a slim 61-58 victory over Shaker on Saturday afternoon. While Hood, Jr. was shooting well throughout the game, the true spark behind the Eagles' victory was Ramion Burt, who scored all eight of his points in the second half and essentially took over under the hoop in the game's final minutes.
About Shenendehowa: Jake Hicks had the game of his life on Saturday night. The senior guard posted a season-best and game-high 28 points, including 12 from behind the arc, to lead the Plainsmen to a 70-51 victory over rival Saratoga during Saturday's Class AA quarterfinal.
Notables: Here's the thing about Green Tech. The Eagles are a physical, in-your-face team, and they're not going to change that now. But, they might want to think about reigning it in a little bit. Fouls became a bit of an issue for Green Tech late in last Saturday's game against Shaker and if the Eagles loose a major factor like Jamil Hood, Jr. or Ramion Burt to the bench, it may be tough for the team to rebound; literally and metaphorically.

CLASS C - at the Glens Falls Civic Center
Saratoga Catholic (17-3) vs. Lake George (19-1), 6:30 p.m.
About Saratoga Catholic: The Saints were huge down the stretch during Saturday's quarterfinal 54-45 victory over Rensselaer. Saratoga Catholic out-scored the Rams 32-to-21 in the second half of the game, pulling away exactly when it mattered most. Michael Naughton led the way with a game-high 15 points, but also shot 2-of-8 from the line.
About Lake George: The Warriors lost a key part of their offense to an incredibly unfortunate circumstance this past week. After he was forced out of Tuesday's game thanks to a flagrant foul, senior Andrew Zibro will be out for the remainder of the season with two broken wrists. It's an incredibly horrible thing to have happen, but don't expect Lake George to bow out because of it. In fact, expect the team to rally.
Notables: Saratoga Catholic cannot afford another late-game comeback in this one. Yes, Zibro is out for the rest of the season, but Lake George still has Joel Wincowski, who has spent the past two years being the most dominant offensive player in the area. The junior is currently averaging 29.2 points per game, even after two sectional matchups, and it's really more a question of when he gets in a rhythm and not if. For the Saints, they'll need to jump out early and maintain control the whole game if they want to be back at the Civic Center on Saturday.

Hoosic Valley (17-3) vs. Greenwich (15-5), 8 p.m.
About Hoosic Valley: The Indians have shown exactly why they're the top seed over the course of teir last two sectional games, including a 95-44 victory over Whitehall in the opening round. The offense has been on point this past week and that's been the crux of the Valley's gameplan all season. When John Rooney and Mike Pierre are hitting shots, everything else just kind of flows.
About Greenwich: The Witches gave up just 17 points in the second and third quarter of Friday's quarterfinal, grabbing a 59-42 victory over Waterford. Justin Carruthers sank eight from the floor for a game-high 17 points, while Sean Estramonte and Kelvin Williamson combined 28 points in the victory.
Notables: This is the game that neither team really wanted, but always kind of knew was inevitable. The Wasaren League rivals have squared off twice already this season, with the Valley taking wins in both, but that doesn't guarantee this is going to be a cakewalk. The only thing it does guarantee is that these two teams are going to be fired up tonight. The key for Greenwich is how well Justin Carruthers can play under the hoop. If he can take control early, he could be the difference for the Witches, who have a notable size advantage in that position. Of course, the Witches' offense will have to go toe-to-toe with the dynamic duo of John Rooney and Mike Pierre who haven't really been slowed down all season.

CLASS D - at the Glens Falls Civic Center
North Warren (13-6) vs. Argyle (16-3), 5 p.m.
About North Warren: The Cougars rallied for a seven-point halftime deficit, and avenged a 25 point loss earlier in the season, with a 60-58 victory over Fort Ann on Saturday. Iain Underwood and Max Colby led the charge, each racking up 17 points for North Warren.
About Argyle: The Scots cruised to their first victory of the postsesaon, topping Northville 72-36 on Saturday afternoon. Kobe Lufkin was held to nine points but dished out eight assists, while Brok Liddle finished with a game-high 21 points.
Notables: If we're being honest with ourselves, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Argyle isn't competing for another Section II title on Saturday afternoon. The Scots are full of weapons and Kobe Lufkin's outside shot is quickly becoming the stuff of local basketball legend. That being said, the Scots can't afford to take this game off either and they'll need to execute the gameplan; especially on defense, where they're undersized, if they want to return to the Civic Center.

CLASS B - at Troy High School
Johnstown (14-6) vs. Watervliet (18-2), 6 p.m.
About Johnstown: Despite only scoring six points in the third quarter, the Sir Bills had built up a sizeable first half lead to hold on for a 53-45 victory over Hoosick Falls on Saturday. Hope Cerasuolo led the offensive attack with a team-high 17 points while Megan Anagnostopouls and Annie Stock both pitched in 10 points each.
About Watervliet: The Cannoneers staged one of their most impressive performances during Saturday's third quarter, out-scoring Ichabod Crane 31-to-4 to grab a 61-48 victory. Kali Szczepanski had her best game of the season as well, racking up a game-high 20 points to lead an evenly balanced 'Vliet offense.
Notables: In a rare turn of events, this semifinal is actually the first time that Watervliet won't be facing off against a Colonial Council team in the postseason. While the Cannoneers are undoubtedly excited for a fresh opponent, it's also a brand-new team and 'Vliet is going to have to zero in on what it does best to return to the championship game. What is that? Playing as a team. 'Vliet has built its entire season on playing as a unit and spreading the ball out. If everyone can score, it's very difficult for other teams - new or old - to defend against.

Schalmont (14-6) vs. Tamarac (18-2), 7:30 p.m.
About Schalmont: Hailee Metzold could not be stopped on Saturday afternoon. The junior guard notched her 15th double digit performance of the season, recording a team-high 23 points in a 52-45 victory over Fonda.
About Tamarac: This is a Bengals squad on an offensive mission. Tamarac was in complete scoring mode on Saturday as Jenna Erickson once again outscored her opponent, racking up 24 points, in a 72-22 victory over Mechanicville. Adiya Henderson added 15 points of  her own and 10 different players posted points.
Notables: This one is actually an interesting matchup. The Sabres have battled through a tough Colonial Council schedule and might be the darkhorse to make it to the Class B championship game. Of course, this is the same spot that Tamarac lost in sectionals last season; also against a Colonial Council team. Odds are pretty good that the Bengals have some less-than-pleasant memories of that game and seniors Jenna Erickson and Adiya Henderson are going to do just about anything to make sure history doesn't repeat itslef.


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