GLENS FALLS — If there was any doubt that the New York Mills Marauders were in control Friday, they erased it in the first minute of the second half.
Nick Comenale made an inside basket, grabbed a steal and went the length of the floor for a two-handed dunk. When Andrew Surprenant added a layup after another Moriah turnover, Vikings coach Brian Cross had to call a timeout. He would later say: “I knew we were in trouble then.”
Comenale scored 22 in the second half for a game-high 28 and the New York Mills’ defense smothered Moriah in a 57-24 decision in the NYSPHSAA Class D boys’ basketball semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“They’re all around a good team,” Moriah senior Tyler Pratt said. “They’ve got overall size. We matched up pretty well with them, but I mean, their guards, they had a good (day) and unfortunately for us, we couldn’t put the ball in the basket very well (Friday).”
The Vikings (21-3) have been led by 6-foot-6-inch Adam Jaquish and 6-foot-4-inch Taylor Slattery all season, and New York Mills (22-1) was the first opponent that matched their height. The Marauders’ 6-foot-5-inch forward, Zach Vennaro, didn’t dominate the offensive paint — he scored eight points — but he and his teammates severely disrupted Moriah’s offense.
Top-ranked New York Mills swarmed Jaquish every time he touched the ball, making him work hard for every shot and even his kick-outs.
“We knew he wasn’t used to playing quite our size, so we tried to bother him with that … and he got in foul trouble early, which really hurt him and the team, I think,” said Comenale, a 6-foot-3-inch guard. New York Mills, from Section III, will meet Section IX’s Coleman Catholic in today’s state title game.
Jaquish picked up three fouls in the first half and was held scoreless in the second half. He was still No. 3 Moriah’s leading scorer with seven points, and he blocked four shots.
Both teams seemed to struggle to find a rhythm early, missing chippies and turning the ball over. Moriah led 7-6 with 1:45 left in the first quarter, and then New York Mills hit two 3-pointers to go into the second ahead 12-7.
The Marauders continued to surge in the second quarter, when they held the Vikings to three points. New York Mills led 23-10 at halftime, and its quick six points to start the third added up to a 23-3 run.
Pratt drained back-to-back treys from the top of the arc, but even as their offense perked up, the Vikings couldn’t gain much ground because New York Mills repeatedly answered at the other end.
Surprenant finished with 10 points for the Marauders, and Ali Hassan had four of their five blocks.
Pratt had four rebounds to go with his six points, and Noah Gilbo pulled down seven boards.
Moriah’s second- and third-leading scorers, Slattery and Gilbo, combined for one point in the first half and five total. Slattery attacked the basket and got good looks, but the rim didn’t do him any favors. The Vikings finished 8-for-43 from the field.
“At times (Friday) we played like sophomores,” Cross said. “(The Vikings) got frustrated and lost their composure a little bit when we didn’t rebound and missed some shots.”
Moriah’s starters were almost exclusively sophomores; junior Ryan Jaquish was too sick to play, and Jarrod MacDougal became the fourth 10th-grader in the starting five.
Both Cross and Pratt said the experience will help the young players down the road.
“You can’t take anything away from our team or anything because we did end up making it this far. Everybody just worked so hard for it, and it’s a great feeling to get here,” Pratt said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t win (Friday), but losing’s a good thing, too. Never let failure just put you down.
“Learn to grow from it and come back stronger next year.”
New York Mills 57, Moriah 24
Slattery 1-0-3, MacDougal 1-0-2, Pratt 2-0-6, Van Burn 0-0-0, Gilbo 0-2-2, Russo 0-0-0, A. Jaquish 3-1-7, Larrow 1-0-2, Clarke 0-2-2, Fernandez 0-0-0. Totals: 8-5-24.
New York Mills (57)
Nichols 2-2-7, Surprenant 4-0-10, Griffith 0-0-0, Sunderlin 0-0-0, Anthony Cassaletta 0-0-0, Comenale 10-4-28, Kehrli 1-0-2, Bauer 0-0-0, Vennaro 4-0-8, Hasan 1-0-2. Totals: 22-6-57.
Moriah 7 3 12 2 — 24
New York Mills 12 11 19 15 — 57
3-point goals: Moriah (3) Pratt 2, Slattery. New York Mills (7) Comenale 4, Surprenant 2, Nichols.
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