RICKY ST. CLAIR
CLINTONVILLE — After a 12-0 Plattsburgh High run to start the fourth quarter, Peru boys’ basketball coach John Clemons had enough and decided to call a full timeout.
The points of emphasis — relax and regroup.
High School Sports Magazine
The Indians (13-6) recovered for a 12-3 run of their own during the final two minutes of regulation en route to 51-46 defeat of the Hornets (10-9) in the Section VII Class B semifinals Saturday night.
“I told them not to let the crowd get into their emotions,” Clemens said. “Fortunately, we were able to battle back and show some resiliency.”
Peru will face second-seeded Beekmantown in the championship Saturday at the Plattsburgh State Field House for 3:30 p.m.
Upset-minded Plattsburgh High grabbed a 23-18 halftime lead with the help of six second-quarter points from Mike O’Connor.
However, Conor Casey and Tim Remillard each contributed seven markers in the third stanza before Hunter Bruno capped the monumental 21-9 run with a miraculous 50-footer at the buzzer to extend Peru’s lead to 39-32.
“We ended switching up to man-to-man defense,” Clemons said. “Our guys got after it, pressured them a little bit and forced some turnovers. I think (Casey) hit a big three and then they came down and hit a three right back. (Bruno) hit the big half-court shot with time running out, so it was huge.”
After Remillard fouled out with 3:15 to go and three players on the floor with four fouls, the Indians used their depth to their advantage.
“We have very good depth,” Clemens said. “We have 10 or 12 guys who can come out and really give us something if we do get in foul trouble.”
Casey paced Peru with 15 points, while Mackenzie LaRocque chipped in for 10.
Plattsburgh’s Taoufik Maknani matched Casey’s game-high with 15 on the night, including three 3-point field goals. Damon LaBorde (8) and Garrett Frady (7) combined for 15 markers.
“Our big guys played strong underneath,” Clemens said. “The first two times we met them, they came out and played consistent each game. I don’t think we really showed up the first two games, but we definitely showed up (Saturday).
“I was really pleased with our man-to-man defense. Even when we had some guys foul out, they stayed with us on the bench. We took care of the ball and hit some big free throws down the stretch, too.”
Casey said he and his team are excited for the opportunity to battle for their first sectional championship since 2006 when they won it as a Class A program.
“We’ve just got to take our momentum from this game and carry it into the next game,” Casey said. “We really need to focus this week in practice and do the little things.”
Peru 51, Plattsburgh High 46
Plattsburgh High (46)
Frady 3-1-7, LaBorde 3-0-8, Maknani 4-4-15, LaPoint 2-0-4, Harrington 1-1-3, Kelley 1-0-3, O’Connor 2-2-6. Totals: 16-8-46.
Bruno 2-2-8, Casey 6-0-15, Remillard 4-0-9, LaRocque 5-0-10, Boyer 1-0-2, Hendricks 2-1-5, Spear 0-2-2. Totals: 20-5-51.
Plattsburgh High 14 9 9 14 — 46
Peru 12 6 21 12 — 51
3-point goals: Plattsburgh High (6): LaBorde 2, Maknani 3, Kelley. Peru (6): Bruno 2, Casey 3, Remillard.
Beekmantown 48, Saranac 36
The second-seeded Eagles (12-7), who received contributions in large part from Keegan Ryan’s 25 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks, used a 31-11 second-half run to pick up the 12-point win.
“In the third quarter, when we came out, we were a little more patient,” Beekmantown coach Ryan Converse said. “We got the shots that we wanted. We worked the ball and got it in places we wanted.”
Ryan totaled all 12 Eagle points in the fourth quarter, which included four field goals and four free throws.
“Against Saranac Lake, I missed a lot of free throws, so that was what I was focused on this week,” Ryan said. “They went to their box-and-one, and we worked on that a lot in practice. Coach (Converse) did a great job scheming around it.
“I was able to play out on the perimeter — dribbling the ball and getting some passing in. That really opened things up. Brennan Pelkey and Nikolas Koktowski just played their best games of the year.”
The Chiefs (12-7) took a 25-17 lead into the halftime break. They accumulated 18 markers in the second quarter, including five points from Connor Christopherson and four from Michael Conway.
Conway ended up pacing Saranac with 13 points. Christopherson and John Maye each added six points.
Pelkey fired eight points in the winning effort for Beekmantown.
Converse was impressed with Tyler Begor, who registered five assists against a Saranac team that used a suffocating full-court press.
“We committed 11 turnovers, which isn’t necessarily bad,” Converse said. “I was pleased with the way our guards handled the ball in the backcourt.”
The Eagles split the regular season series with Peru at one game apiece, winning at home Jan. 10, 66-57, before dropping a 56-50 decision Feb. 13.
“We just have to go with what got us here,” Converse said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a successful season. We need to keep doing the things we do well and work hard all week.”
Beekmantown 48, Saranac 36
C. Christopherson 3-0-6, Medeiros 2-0-5, Rascoe 0-0-0, Conway 5-2-13, Maye 2-2-6, Bullis 1-0-2, Daniels 2-0-4. Totals: 15-4-36.
Begor 1-0-3, Koktowski 1-0-2, Manney 2-0-5, Pelkey 4-0-8, Ryan 9-7-25, Singh 0-1-1, Stevens 1-0-2, Trombley 1-0-2. Totals: 19-8-48.
Saranac 7 18 3 8 — 36
Beekmantown 10 19 12 — 48
3-point goals: Saranac (2): Medeiros, Conway. Beekmantown (2): Begor, Manney.