The 2013-14 Moriah Vikings
For the second time in the last 11 years, the Moriah boys varsity basketball team will head to the Glens Falls Civic Center to play in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s (NYSPHSAA) state championships.
The Vikings (21-2) will play Section III’s New York Mills (21-1), the top ranked team in Class D according to the New York State Sportswriters Association, Friday, March 14 at 11:45 a.m.
- New York Mills (21-1)
Coach: Mike Adey
Sr. Nick Comenale - 22, G
24.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.5 spg, 3.1 apg
Sr. Zach Vennaro - 40, F
13.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.4 apg
So. Terrance Nichols - 3, G
8.6 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.3 rpg
Jr. Andrew Surprenant - 10, G
6.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg
Sr. Ali Hassan - 52, F
4.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 bpg
Sr. Zach Griffin - 12, F
3.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Moriah, ranked fifth in the March 4 NYSSWA poll, cruised through the Section VII tournament in defeating Lake Placid, Keene and Westport before scoring 10-point regional wins against then No. 2 and defending Class D champion Argyle and Madrid-Wadington, who had eliminated them from the regional playoffs one year ago.
For head coach Brian Cross, this trip to the Final Four has been about defense.
“We have played very well defensively all year,” said Cross, who guided the Vikings to the state championship game against SS Seward in 2003. “We have been able to rebound the ball well with Taylor Slattery, Noah Gilbo and Adam Jaquish. Tyler Pratt has done a great job defensively against some of the best scorers in the state, holding (Kobe) Lufkin and the Barney kid from Madrid well below their scoring averages.”
The Vikings also played in a very competitive Northern Basketball League Division II, where they faced stiff challenges from Seton Catholic, Moriah and Westport.
“We have had six or eight games that were very close and we won most of them,” Cross said. “The key is that we never panicked, and we could have easily panicked against Madrid-Waddington when we got in foul trouble in the second half.”
While the Moriah offense is focused around center Adam Jaquish, who averages 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game along with 5 blocks per on the defensive end, Cross said the key is what the other players bring to the table.
“Noah has played big, especially late in the season averaging near a double-double,” he said. “Ryan Jaquish has come off the bench and played some big minutes. He hit some clutch free throws against Argyle and while he only had one basket against Madrid, it was a big three pointer that helped us to the win.”
In comparing the 2013-14 team to the 2002-03 squad that made the trip to Glens Falls, the current squad has youth on its side.
“That team had four seniors and a sophomore in the starting lineup,” Cross said. “This is team almost the complete opposite. We start one senior, a junior and three sophomores with a sophomore as our sixth man, so there are a lot of times we have four sophomores on the court.”
No matter the makeup of the team, the closest any of the current players have been to the Final Four was as young elementary students watching the 2003 squad.
“It’s going to be an eye-opening experience when these kids walk into the Civic Center,” Cross said. “We will treat it as another game and we have to continue to do the same things that we have done all year.”
New York Mills has been to the Final Four three times in the past four season, winning the Class D state title in 2010-11 with a 47-42 win over Coleman Catholic. They lost in the semifinal round to state champ Argyle (67-60) last season and 56-50 to eventual state champion Maple Grove in 2009-10. Mills also won the 1982 state championship all under the direction of head coach Mike Adey, a 2011 inductee to the New York State Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame along with former Westport coach Tom Beauvais.
“They have been there before so their kids have the experience,” Cross said.
Mills is led by 6-3 guard Nick Comenale, who averages 24.3 points per game, 3.1 assists and 3.5 steals.
“He is a shooter-slasher who looks very good from what I have seen on tape,” Cross said. “They are going to try and do a lot of the same things that we do, we just have to be able to defend it and rebound.”
In the first game of the day at the Civic Center, 2011 Class D champion Coleman Catholic of Section IX plays Sherman of Section VI at 10 a.m. The winners of the two games will meet Saturday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. for the right to hoist the Class D state championship.