By STEVE BRICKLER
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — A balanced scoring attack prevents defenses from taking away a player or two as everyone on the floor represents a potential threat to score on any given possession. Victor boys’ basketball used its balanced scoring attack to methodically pull away from North Rockland of Section I to claim the first NYSPHSAA title in program history by a 56-38 score line, Saturday night at Cool Insuring Arena.
Victor had five players score between 9 and 15 points to keep the Red Raiders defense off balance all night.
“Our offense is built to score against any type of defense,” head coach Tyler Roberts said.
Whether it was Nick Leonard (9 points) bulling his way to the basket down low, AJ Queri (also 9 points) hitting from distance on 3-7 shooting from beyond the arc or Griffen Hopkins (a game-high 15), Garrett Clar (12) and Cam Ryan (9) getting to the rim off the drive, the Blue Devils showed they could score in any way. They also went 14-19 from the free-throw line to prevent North Rockland from having any hopes of getting themselves within striking distance in the second half. They also took care of the ball all night, committing only two turnovers.
But it was the Victor defense that was equally impressive, forcing North Rockland into eight turnovers which the Blue Devils turned into 10 points. The Red Raiders were forced into numerous low percentage shots on many possessions and could not find their range from distance going 0-9 from beyond the arc in the first half and 3-18 overall. North Rockland never had anything more than a five-point run during the entirety of the game.
“I’m most proud of our defense tonight, that won us the game” said Roberts.
Hopkins got the Blue Devils going early scoring six points in the opening quarter. Queri added his first three of the night as Victor took a 13-8 lead by quarter’s end. A quarter opening and one three-point play by Leonard and a deuce by Clar extended the Victor lead to 10. North Rockland moved within six but the Blue Devils finished the half scoring six of the last eight points to take a 24-14 lead into the half.
In the second half, North Rockland cut the deficit to single digits at 28-19 but a 7-0 Victor run, led by another old fashioned 3 from Leonard and 2-point field goals from Brennan Hopkins and Clar gave the Blue Devils a double-digit lead they enjoyed for the rest of the game. By the end of the third stanza, Victor was out to a 12-point lead and closed the game with an 18-point margin of victory.
As for winning the state title, Coach Roberts was elated post game. “I’m at a loss for words. I am incredibly proud and excited for the kids.”
The Devils season continues next weekend in the NYS Federation tournament.
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