SYRACUSE Outstanding first halves could not manifest themselves in the second half Sunday, preventing the top-seeded South Jefferson and Carthage boys basketball teams to come up short of reaching their goals of winning a Section 3 championships.
South Jefferson built a double-digit, first-half edge, but wilted under the Skaneateles defensive pressure the second half and then had nothing left in overtime, falling 58-52 in the Class B semifinals at Onondaga Community Colleges SRC Arena.
Carthage, similarly, led the entire first half and took a three-point lead into intermission. But the Comets managed just five third-quarter points to fall behind and lose to New Hartford 57-43 in the Class A semifinals.
SOUTH JEFFERSON 52 (OT)
The top-seeded Spartans (18-2) opened a 34-23 halftime lead and did not yield the lead until the first minute of the overtime. Fred Piches club still had a chance to win in regulation, but could not execute when it counted.
After No. 4 Skaneateles (16-5) had rallied to tie the game at 47-47, South Jefferson had possession with 26 seconds left, including 20 on the shot clock.
Piche called a play in which center Jacob Worden received the inbounds pass and would try to hit fellow senior Tom Bassett cutting to the hoop. But when Bassett hesitated, Wordens pass sailed out of bounds.
I put the ball in my seniors hands, Piche said. I told Jake if the pass wasnt there, wed run the clock down and call another timeout.
Collin Jones of Skaneateles missed a wild 3-pointer with eight seconds left, and the Spartans had one last chance to win. But Wordens short baseline jumper went long.
I thought our best chance was to win in regulation, Piche said. They had all the momentum in overtime.
After a Jones free throw gave the Lakers their first lead of the game (48-47), William Beeses rebound hoop put the Spartans in the lead again.
But a big Austin Gardner tip-in after South Jefferson had played great defense for 35 seconds gave Skaneateles the lead for good.
Bassett, who was magnificent the first half with 19 points, then missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Chris Knupp, who led Skaneateles with 21 points, converted an inside hoop to give the Lakers a three-point lead. After a missed South Jefferson 3-pointer, Bobby Leslie (14 points) drove for a hoop, and the Lakers iced it by making four straight free throws.
In the first half, South Jefferson ran its offense to perfection, using good spacing for easy shots to open as much as a 14-point lead. But the Skaneateles man-to-man defense toughened the second half, not allowing the Spartans anything easy.
We got going a little too fast, but they made us do that, Bassett said. Every time I moved, there were one of two guys waiting for me. They also made it tougher for us to get the ball inside to Jake.
Said Piche: They denied our passes to the wing, and made us start our offense six or seven feet farther out than we wanted.
Skaneateles coach Karl Norris said after what Bassett did to his club the first half, he had to make a change.
The second half we gave Alex (Brownlee) help every time Bassett got the ball, Norris said. We needed to make him see another defender.
Bassett managed just one hoop and a single free throw the second half. If they are going to let the bumping and grinding go, thats not in our favor, Piche said.
Worden finished with 14 points and Jordan Schloop 10 for the Spartans.
Skaneateles faces No. 2 Westhill, a 62-49 winner over Clinton, for the title on Sunday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
NEW HARTFORD 57,
When New Hartford extended its pressure defense to midcourt and beyond, the Comets didnt have an answer seeing their 16-game winning streak end.
We got a little tentative and didnt attack, and we let their pressure get to us, Carthage coach Jeff Ventiquattro said.
Sophomore Peyton McLaurin scored 12 first-half points and Carthage took a 27-24 lead on a Keyan Pinnock 3-pointer in the last minute.
But McLaurin was limited to one more basket, and the Comets didnt have an answer for the quickness of New Hartford twin guards Jared Henderson and Jordan Henderson. They combined for 35 points, hitting five 3-pointers, while penetrating Carthages zone.
They were quicker than anybody weve seen this year, said Walter Jeter (13 points). And then we backed off and let them hit some key threes when it was still a game.
Carthage went scoreless the first four minutes of the second half, and managed just two baskets and a free throw as New Hartford (17-3) surged into a 39-32 lead.
Jordan Hendersons three-point play to begin the final quarter, and a pair of big 3-pointers from Tom Clifford prevented the Comets from coming all the way back.
Its been a great run, Ventiquattro said. Now the kids coming back (four starters) know what it will take to make the next step.
New Hartford plays Bishop Ludden in the Class A title game.
BEAVERS AT JCC
Top-seeded Beaver River will play No. 2 Tully for the Class C-1 boys title at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Jefferson Community College. The winner will then play either Fabius-Pompey or Mohawk for the overall Class C crown on Sunday in the Carrier Dome.