POTSDAM The 2012-13 OFA boys basketball team gained a great deal of notoriety with its 3-point shooting.
But the Blue Devils won their championships with defense.
On Saturday, coach Mark Henrys NAC Central Division co-champions returned their program to the state Class B Tournament and into the quest for the overall Section 10 championship by prevailing in a tenacious defensive showdown with Potsdam, 46-36, at SUNY Potsdam.
Meanwhile, in the Section 10 Class D final, Madrid-Waddington upended top-seeded St. Regis Falls 52-41. In the Class C final, St. Lawrence Central defeated Canton 48-37.
OFA, 19-1 and ranked sixth in the state, ended Potsdams three-year reign over Class B, a reign that began after seven straight titles by OFA.
Potsdam plays hard all of the time and is an outstanding defensive team. To beat them three times this season is a major feat, Henry said. Our defense was definitely the difference especially in that third quarter when we held them to three points.
Jack Manke played his best game of the season in the post and Colin Ross came off the bench and just gave us great energy again. He just never quits on a play and makes things happen.
Ross entered the game in the third quarter with OFA leading 25-22 and the two teams seemingly locked in a stalemate. But instead six minutes of mayhem ensued in which the Devils held the Sandstoners scoreless and reeled off a 13-1 run capped by a driving three-point play by Matt Piercey for a 38-23 lead.
Moments after Manke scored inside off a penetration assist from Pat Cosmo; Ross took a steal for layup. He followed with a fastbreak conversion and later made a flying block from behind to break up a lay-in attempt by the Sandstoners 6-foot-7 center Shawn Clark.
We played extremely hard and played very well defensively but we just couldnt get our offensive execution going, said Potsdam coach Brooks Bigwarfe. But OFAs defense had a lot to do with that. They have it all and should do very well in the state tournament. And I hope they take it home.
Senior Cosmo said that getting to the state tournament was amazing and that he and his teammates were excited about competing for the overall Section 10 title, which OFA last won in 2008 at the end of a five-year reign.
Cosmo and several of his teammates watched some of those games as youngsters and dreamed of winning a championship at Maxcy Hall.
We have talking about winning this championship since we were in fifth grade. Potsdam was a very tough team and as a team we just dug in a played great defense, Cosmo said.
Matt Piercey did a great job of staying with Konnor Bigwarfe who is a great three-point shooter and Colin Ross came in a just sparked us again. I dont even know what to call the energy Colin brings, he just plays the game right.
Doing everything right was also the signature of a balanced winning offense led by Kinnon LaRose, who scored a game-high 12 points with three assists and three steals. Breton LaRose tallied eight points with six rebounds, and Piercey finished with seven points.
The Devils never trailed after opening a 7-0 lead and answered every bid by Potsdam. The first retort came on a hurried 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first quarter by Cavan LaRose after a 3-pointer by Konnor Bigwarfe cut the difference to 12-7.
Bigwarfe led the Sandstoners with nine points and Will Coleman followed with eight including six in the fourth quarter.
OFA will return to Maxcy Hall on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. matchup with Class C champion St. Lawrence in the Section 10 semifinals. Massena (Class A) and Madrid-Waddington (Class B) will play at 7:15 p.m.
MADRID-WADDINGTON 52, ST. REGIS FALLS 41
Madrid-Waddington coach Aaron Jones pointed to all 13 players on his team after his Yellow Jackets claimed their second straight Section 10 Class D championship at SUNY Potsdams Maxcy Hall. Emplying suffocating and larcenous on-the-ball defense to dominate the second half, the sixth seeded Jackets forged a victory over top-seeded St. Regis Falls.
It was Madrid-Waddingtons third straight win over an NAC division champion.
You should see this team in practice, said Jones after his 16-6 team retraced its steps to the beginning of last years trip to the state Class D championship game against Sackets Harbor.
Our bench really pushes our starters every day in practice to be better. If it wasnt for them, these accomplishments, like a Class D championship cant happen. Today, we were very active defensively.
Greg Thompson finished with 17 points and five rebounds and Wright used a 6-for-8 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter to cap a 13-point, four-assist effort.
While directing the offense against a tenacious St. Regis defense, Colin OBryan delivered 11 points and four assists.
We had a shaky start but we never stopped working hard, OBryan said. Once we got on a roll at the end of the season we worked even harder.
Our defense was great today, everyone stayed with their man.
St. Regis Falls Caleb Green scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed five rebounds. Brandon Votra added seven points and grabbed seven rebounds
This one is a tough one to swallow. Madrid-Waddington has been here before and that played a big factor in the outcome, St. Regis Falls coach Justin Todd said. They were active defensively and boarded well. But we had a tremendous season, something that put St. Regis Falls back on the map.
The Saints finished at 19-2.
ST. LAWRENCE 48, CANTON 37
St. Lawrence Central coach Joey Reome spoke to his team at halftime about getting the ball to his two All-NAC selections Zane Ramsdell and Josh White in the Section 10 Class C championship game.
The Larries listened as Ramsdell established himself inside forcefully in the third quarter as St. Lawrence Central expanded an 18-16 halftime lead to a victory and a repeat sectional title.
Ramsdell scored the first four points and tallied nine of the Larries 16 points in the third quarter, which produced a 34-27 lead.
We needed to get Zane involved more in the game. Zane and Josh White have led us all season long and they came through once again, Reome said.
Shane Fuentas then came alive for the Larries (10-10). Fuentas went 6-for-6 at the foul line in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Ramsdell generated nine of his 14 points in the third quarter, grabbed 14 rebounds, collected five assists and two steals.
Jessi Greer tallied 11 points with seven in the second half.
Evan LaPoint scored 11 points for Canton.