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Massena boys claim title with buzzer-beater

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POTSDAM — Even Zack Rusaw couldn’t believe it.

But when Rusaw’s shot with 1.7 seconds left in regulation went through the basket, it gave Massena a stunning 48-47 victory over Malone in Monday night’s Section 10 Class A championship at Potsdam College’s Maxcy Hall.

“I did not think it was going in there at the end, But in the second half, they had started to fall for me,” said Rusaw who took the Raiders on his back in the fourth quarter.

Rusaw scored all 12 of his team’s points for a game-high total of 22, including a layup with 27 seconds left that gave Massena its first lead (46-45) since midway through the first quarter.

Mitch Gallagher put the Huskies back up on top with a layup with 12 seconds to play, but Rusaw’s high turnaround 10-footer, with a pair of Huskies draped all over him, glanced off the glass and in, just before the final buzzer.

“Zack was actually really gassed, really tired, but he came up with some big baskets late,” said Massena coach Tom Miller. “He’s been a warrior all year and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Malone had defeated Massena by 59-38 and 75-61 during the regular season, but Monday night couldn’t shake the Raiders, who twice rebounded from nine-point deficits in the second half.

Gallagher, who scored 31 points in last year’s sectional victory over Massena, was held to just nine points Monday.

“In the second half, we played great defense and we dominated the boards,” said Rusaw, who finished with 11 rebounds.

Rusaw is part of a lanky Raider front line that is listed at 6-foot-4, 6-5, 6-4.

“Our 2-3 zone was really good. Our size, we’re huge,” Rusaw added. “Our record wasn’t that great this year, but to win this makes our season. This feels awesome.”

Massena (11-8) moves on to the Section 10 overall tournament next week before entering the Class A state tournament on March 6 versus the Section 2 champion in a game to be played at Saratoga High School.

Also for the Raiders, Xavier Viskovitch scored five points, grabbed eight rebounds and added five assists. Joe Labelle scored eight points, Tyler Haas added seven points, and Rhoades Tarbell contributed four points and seven rebounds.

Malone (17-2) saw its season end as Harvey Smith led the Huskies with 12 points and nine rebounds. while Nate Monette matched Gallagher’s point total with nine.

“It’s a tough loss for Malone. They had a great year, said Miller, whose team had captured the Section 10 crown from 2007-11 until last season’s loss. “This is a one-game deal. I was on the losing end last year.

“Tonight they couldn’t quite put us away. We got the ball inside much better in the second half. We’re happy we’re moving on.”

The Section 10 tournament continues tonight, changing venues to SUNY Canton.

In Class D girls semifinals, Hammond faces Chateaugay at 6 p.m., followed by Madrid-Waddington playing Heuvelton at 7:45 p.m.

The boys tournament resumes with Class D semifinals on Wednesday at SUNY Canton. Edwards-Knox faces Madrid-Waddington at 6 p.m. and St. Regis Falls plays Harrisville at 7:45 p.m.

Class B, C and D championships for the girls are Friday and finals for the boys in the same three classes are Saturday.

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