PLATTSBURGH — None of the AuSable Valley boys’ basketball players have been to the NYSPHSAA regionals before, and coach Jamie Douglass has told them to soak up the experience.
“Just enjoy it. Feel the moment,” Douglass said he told his players. He added that the Patriots aren’t intimidated by the bigger stage. “Just another basketball game — those kids are from a small town just like us. We’ve already played at the Field House. We’re not nervous.
“Just told them, ‘Enjoy every second, have fun, play our style.’”
The Patriots (14-4) face Lake George today in a Class C regional final at the Plattsburgh State Field House. The winner will advance to next weekend’s final four at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Lake George (21-2) won five playoff games to get to the Field House. The Warriors, seeded second in the Section II tournament, held off No. 1 seed Hoosick Valley 51-48 in the championship game and then pulled away in the second half of Wednesday’s regional semifinal for a 71-51 win over St. Lawrence.
Douglass called them “very talented offensively,” and they’re led in that department by sophomore guard Joel Wincowski. He scored 28 in the sectional final, surpassing 1,000 career points in the process, and then had 37 on Wednesday. He’s the second-leading scorer in Section II with 27.2 points per game.
Connor McCoy sparked the Warriors with 19 points against St. Lawrence, and Ethan Wincoswski and Greg Rosenthal are also scoring threats.
Douglass said AuSable Valley will mix up its defense to try to keep Lake George off balance.
“We just want to keep up the defensive intensity — deny every pass, contest every shot, box out every time,” he added.
And the Patriots expect to see some pressure from the Warriors in the backcourt.
“They play a little three-quarter trap, a 1-2-2, and we’ve seen that,” Douglass said. “We just gotta handle it when they apply pressure to the point guard.”
Shane Douglas is AuSable Valley’s top scorer, averaging 18.8 points per game. He had 15 in a 53-24 victory over Ticonderoga in the Section VII final, while Zach Cosgrove scored eight. The Patriots opened an 18-4 lead in the first quarter of that game.
Douglass said they just need to keep doing the same things that got them to the regionals.
“We don’t have to have a spectacular game. We just have to try to contain their big scorers, stay out of foul trouble, avoid turnovers, and we can win this,” Douglass said. “I feel really good about this group of kids.”
Staying out of foul trouble will be especially important because the Patriots will have a shortened bench. They lost two players this week, including second-leading scorer John Goodnough, who was injured in shop class.
Douglass said the remaining players have been firing on all cylinders, and the team had really good practices this week.
“We’re just ready,” he said. “Now we just gotta go out and execute.”
Email Courtney Lewis:
Lake George (21-2)
FG FT PTS 3FG
J. Wincowski 233 84 599 49
Rosenthal 71 31 184 11
E. Wincowski 79 16 176 2
Zibro 50 30 140 10
McCoy 52 27 137 6
AuSable Valley (14-4)
GP FG FT PTS PPG
Douglas 18 135 37 338 18.8
Goodnough 14 86 12 186 13.3
Cosgrove 18 60 16 161 8.9
Depo 17 45 10 113 6.6
Brooks 9 20 8 48 5.3
Douglas 18 31
Cosgrove 18 25
Deop 17 13
For updates on today's regional championship between Section II's Lake George and Section VII's AuSable Valley, follow @matt_hamilton10 on Twitter.