Moriah falls to Haldane, 67-59

Mar. 18—GLENS FALLS — It felt like a boxing match with each team giving their best shots.

Moriah just couldn't hold on, falling in the NYSPHSAA Class C Semifinal, 67-59 to Section 1's Haldane, at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

"Every time it seemed like we'd make a run, they'd make a three point and get it back up to seven or whatever," Vikings head coach Brian Cross said. "I couldn't be more proud of the way our kids battled the whole game.

"(Haldane) was tough. (Namchamkin) was tough, (Esposito) was tough. They're a good basketball team, and there's no doubt about it. We played very with them for most of the game. We got down and they made some shots and we played hard. That's that's all I can ask of them."

With a 33-32 lead for the Blue Devils going into the second half, everyone was ready for a repeat of two teams that wanted it just as bad as the other.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, Haldane roared out of the gate with an 11-3 run to start the second half that left Moriah playing catch up.

They would do just that. The Vikings would counter with a 6-0 of their own to pull within two at 46-44 in the waning minutes of the third quarter with momentum on their side.

However, turnovers began to doom them as the Blue Devils retaliated with a 7-0 run in the final minute of the third quarter to hold a 53-44 lead going into the final eight minutes.

Haldane pushed its lead to 10 at 60-50 as hope seemed to dwindle for Moriah.

However, the team carried a "never say die" mentality and chipped into the lead. This was culminated by a steal by Evan Fleury who sprinted down the court to lay the ball in and was fouled.

He would make the free throw and the Vikings were down 60-56.

"We had some uncharacteristic turnovers down the stretch," Blue Devils head coach Joe Virgadamo said. "Thankfully, we hit a couple free throws and got a couple big rebounds.

"Luckily we still had a couple of timeouts left to kind of loosen the guys up and get the nerves out. But [Moriah] wouldn't stop, they kept fighting and fighting. and that's the kind of game we knew it was gonna be."

And that's the type of game it was. The Blue Devils would sink seven free throws down the stretch to close out the game.

The Vikings knew they were in for a battle, as Haldane's roster featured five players at least 6 feet, 2 inches tall.

But it didn't cause Moriah to waver as they battled for rebounds. Logan Gilbo, for example, finished the game with 11 rebounds, nine that were offensive.

What the Vikings lacked in size, they made up for in hustle plays. For such a size disadvantage, they only trailed in rebounds 38-33.

"We tried to give it 110%," Fleury said. "You know, we really wanted to come out on top, but unfortunately we couldn't."

As Haldane slowly iced the game, you didn't see any wavering from Moriah. They still moved the ball down the court and tried to close the gap. They just couldn't find the bottom of the bucket.

"Moriah was tough," Virgadamo said. "We knew they were tough. They're well coached and (Allen) was a heck of a player. It was exactly what we expected.. It was a hard fought 32 minute battle. It was a great state semifinal game."

Allen finished with a team high 19 points as teammates Joe Pelkey and Chase McGinness finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Haldane finished with four players reaching double digits with Matthew Namchamkin leading the way with a game high 22.

While the night ended on a sour note, there is hope for next year for Moriah to be even better.

There are players such as Gilbo, Fleury, Dieter Olcott and so on that are leaving, but the Vikings had multiple juniors starting.

"I think next year, there'll be very good," Cross said. "I mean, we got five kids coming back. and yeah, three of them were starters for us this year. Three of the kids are juniors.

"And you know, there's a couple of kids that didn't play basketball this year, because they knew we were going to be fairly good. I've already spoken to them to try to get them to play next year because there's their kids that could help."

The one thing they'll likely miss the most is Cross, who said this season was his final one leading the program.

"I've got a good relationship with all these kids and I have had it for years because I've had a lot of their siblings, like Evan," Cross said. "I coached his brother in 2017.

"So I know all the families and I know all the kids get along really well with each other. It's just, it's fun to coach them. But it's time for me after 24 years to allow someone else to take over."

Haldane 67, Moriah 59

Haldane (67)

Esposito 3-3-11, Faye 1-2-4, Murray 3-0-8, Van Tassel 2-0-4, Bozsik 5-0-13, Stickle 0-1-1, Nachamkin 8-5-22, Giachinta 2-0-4. Totals: 24-11-67.

Moriah (59)

Fleury 1-1-3, Allen 6-4-19, Pelkey 5-0-13, Gilbo 4-1-9, McGinness 3-2-11, Olcott 2-0-4. Totals: 21-8-59.

Halftime- Haldane, 33-32

3 point goals- MCS (9) Allen 3, Pelkey 3, McGinness 3. HCS (8) Esposito 2, Murray 2, Bozsik 3, Namchamkin.