School basketball: Big win for Mohonasen
Ken Dagostino lit a spark when he mentioned to his Mohonasen basketball team at Monday’s practice that the Section II Class A tournament might not be in their future.
“I challenged them a little bit, and they responded. I get it. They got mad,” said the veteran coach. “They wanted to prove a point that they should go.”
That point came in the form of a big road win, when the Mighty Warriors used a quick start and a strong finish to knock off Columbia, 56-48, in a Suburban Council South Division game Tuesday night.
Mohonasen had prevailed only twice in 15 previous games, against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, who own one win between them. Columbia came in with nine wins, one of them against the Mighty Warriors back on Dec. 13, 57-51.
“Their dander was up a little bit, and they wanted to send a message,” said Dagostino. “I think they were trying to tell the coaching staff and our athletic director, ‘We’re capable of playing.’”
The Mighty Warriors played hard in earlier games. Tuesday night they played hard, and well, especially down the stretch after Columbia had pulled even at 42. Ryan Carter scored a season-high 19 points, and fellow junior forward Mason Tallman also reached a season best with 14.
“There were only a couple of games we were out of in the fourth quarter,” said Dagostino. “We’ve been in so many close ones. We weren’t able to close them out.”
Seven of Mohonasen’s 13 losses had come by single digits, including a 56-55 double-overtime setback against Averill Park. Mohonasen also bowed to Colonie, 46-45, and Ballston Spa, 52-49.
“We were patient with the ball and we made shots. We haven’t made shots all year. We got loose balls and a lot of deflected passes,” said Dagostino. “Our offense and defense finally met on the same night.”
Columbia was averaging over 70 points per game before it was held to a season low. Columbia scoring leader Jahlil Nails (24.5 ppg) managed 13 points and Elijah Lott (18.4 ppg.) was blanked.
“We played our normal match-up zone. We just played it exceptionally well,” said Dagostino.
Chris Richardson, Connor DeSantis and Anthony Jones scored eight, seven and six points, respectively, for the Mighty Warriors.
“When they came back and tied it at 42, there was no panic city,” said Dagostino. “Tallman hit a three. Jones had a big basket. DeSantis hit a three. Everyone contributed in that late run.”
Mohonasen’s last significant win came in the first round of the 2013 sectionals when the Mighty Warriors topped homestanding Gloversville, 57-40.
“Our guys gave it everything they had,” Dagostino said. “I was happy for them. They were happy.”
Mohonasen will host Colonie tonight and finish league play at Guilderland Tuesday.
“They could have said ‘We’re done,’ and packed it in, but they didn’t,” said Dagostino. “Right to the end they’re fighting.”
The Executive Committee of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association will vote in August whether to restore the maximum number of regular-season games that teams are allowed to play.
Restoring those games was one of the numerous items discussed at the Executive Committee’s quarterly meeting last week.
Across-the-board cuts were enacted in January of 2009 in response to the recession that engulfed the state a year earlier. The basketball schedule was reduced from 20 to 18 games, the soccer and lacrosse schdules were reduced from 18 to 16 games, and baseball, softball and ice hockey schedules were trimmed from 24 to 20 games. Several other sports were impacted.
Accordng to John Moriello of the New York State Sportswriters Association, there has never been been a consensius on the actual savings school districts have realized each year under the shortened seasons, but even the highest-end estimates of a combined $12 million to $15 million per year for the state’s 600-plus school districts pales in comparison to the $600 million increase in school aid earmarked in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recently announced 2014 budget.