Moriah's Dylan Trombley cuts past Newfield defenders Patrick Banfield and Quintel Clements in the NYSPHSAA Class D championship game March 18. Trombley was named the tournament MVP after scoring 49 points over the two games as the Vikings won the Class D crown.
Photo by Jill Lobdell
BINGHAMTON — It was obvious early on, this was not the way Moriah wanted to play this game.
A slowed down tempo and a lot of whistles is not the friend of a team that likes to run the ball up and down the court and play pressure defense, but that is where the Vikings found themselves March 18 against Newfield in the NYSPHSAA Class D Championship game.
However, the Vikings kept their focus and rotated their bench throughout the game, eventually wearing down a Newfield squad who did not substitute in the first 30 minutes of the game to earn a 61-52 win and their first state title March 18.
The game started the way Moriah wanted, as Joe Stahl connected on a three-pointer and Dylan Trombley drove to the lane for a short jumper to give the Vikings a 5-0 lead.
However, Newfield responded with a 9-0 run to take a four point lead into the later part of the opening quarter, with Moriah coach Brian Cross calling a timeout at the 3:04 mark.
The Vikings came back to cut the lead to 14-12 before Dylan Trombley, who finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, launched a shot from 40 feet away which swished through the net to give the Vikings momentum and a 15-14 lead.
Moriah then scored the first five points of the second quarter before being bogged down by Newfield’s tempo and seven team fouls called against them, as the Trojans held a 24-23 lead heading into halftime.
“After that first half I had no clue what we were going to do other than try to make them have harder looks on the inside and figure out a way to get our shots to start falling,” Cross said. “I told the kids at halftime, don’t blame the officials, we just have to make our shots. We hadn’t played great defense, either, so we needed to get back to what we did.”
“We wanted to focus on defense and I think we were able to execute well,” senior Todd Gregory said. “We wanted to keep running the floor and I think they were definitely tired in that fourth quarter. That is our advantage because we run the floor and we are deep.”
Jay Strieble, who scored 15 in the opening game of the tournament, only had two points in the finals, but said his focus moved to the other side of the floor.
“I kept missing but every time I missed, it encouraged me to keep playing better on defense,” Strieble said. “It made me focus on continuing to play the best defense I could as the game went on.”
“Jay had some big rebounds and had looks at the basket that he made yesterday but, for whatever reason today, they would not go in,” Cross said.
With that, the Vikings continued to play their style of basketball, including sticking with their substitution pattern, as they went through the third quarter to grab a 37-36 lead.
“Dewey (Snyder) played awesome with some key buckets to start the third,” Trombley said. “Jay (Strieble) had a lot of big rebounds and everyone just played an awesome game tonight.
“We wanted to start running a little bit more when we got to the end of the third because we could see they were starting to tire,” Trombley continued. “Newfield was a great team and they battled until the end of that game, they played hard.”
“Everyone was missing shots, including myself, in the first half,” Snyder said. “I wanted to start slowing things down and I started to get some better looks and chance to drive to the basket.”
The Vikings started the fourth quarter with a pair of three pointers from junior Joey Stahl, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists in being named to the Class D All-Tournament team.
“They felt so good coming off the hand and even better when I saw them go in,” Stahl said. “It was one of the best feelings in the world.”
“Joey has done that all year,” Cross said. “He hit some big shots in the fourth and Dylan made some good drives and got to the foul line.”
Stahl also said the message the team received heading into the fourth quarter was simple — keep Newfield off the scoreboard.
“We started to run in the third quarter and we wanted to keep that going into the fourth quarter,” Stahl said. “We said we were going to play the best defense of our life in the final eight minutes of that game. It turned out our way.”
“We knew we had to get out on a run and then step it up on defense so we would be able to run the floor more and get buckets in transition,” said Jerin Sargent, who scored 6 points to go with five rebounds.
“They didn’t sub except to foul late in the game,” Cross said. “I was able to use my subs and they all did a great job. Jerin came in and played great, Braden did the same, Big Mike (Rollins) came in and gave us some very good minutes and that has been the key all year long when you are trying to run people up and down the court and then when they get tired, we have the ability with our depth to run them even more.”
Down 42-36, Newfield did not go away, keeping the score near a five point difference through the bulk of the quarter while Cross continued to rely on his bench, including Jerin Sargent and Braden Swan.
“Our bench has been tremendous all year,” Cross said. “Even the kids that do not play a lot are really supportive. I tell to tell them all to sit down about 15 times during the game because they were really excited and it has really helped when you have the support of everyone.”
With 1:46 left, Swan was able to get an offensive rebound on a tipped ball, getting it to Trombley who was fouled and made a pair of free throws.
On Newfield’s next possession, Stahl grabbed a second chance rebound over Newfield’s Quintel Clements, who had 14 rebounds to go with 18 points for the Trojans.
Once Stahl had control of the ball, he looked up the court to set up the moment Moriah fans rose to their feet, knowing their team was on the verge of a state title.
“That was a huge moment,” Stahl said about seeing Swan flying up the near sideline. “I saw Braden out there and I knew if I could get the pass to him it was two points more on the board so I just let it fly to him. To see him get fouled and hit the free throw on top was just, wow.”
Swan and Trombley then finished out the game on the foul line, with Swan hitting both attempts and Trombley going 5-for-6 in the final minute of play. Overall, the Vikings were 14-of-16 from the line.
“He was unbelievable and what he has done all year,” Cross said of Swan. “We put Braden on whoever we need to stop. He hustles and plays great defense and also happens to hit big shots for us and hit a couple big free throws when they started to foul us.”
Cross added, “He’s a kid who was unsure if he wanted to play with us or not at the start of the year. I think he’s comfortable with it now.”
“It was such a big quarter for me and the team, it will probably be months before it starts to even fade from the front of my mind,” Swan said.
The Trojans, now down double digits, did not stop, hitting a three pointer with under five seconds which sent Stahl to the baseline for an inbounds that never came.
Instead, Stahl stood there, looking up at the scoreboard at the center of the Floyd Maines Veteran’s memorial Arena as the time counted down, a bigger and bigger smile on his face as 3.0 became 2.0, then 1.0 and finally 0.0 with a buzzer sounding.
Stahl threw the ball high into the air, running towards Trombley as both turned and headed for the Moriah bench, which embraced each other in celebration of a moment many had been waiting for over the past four seasons.
Cross said the team did exactly what they needed to do on defense in the final 16 minutes, a defense he continues to praise.
“This team this year really plays defense, they really get after you defensively,” he said. “I think that really is the difference between any of the other teams that I have brought here, and I have had some good teams here, there’s no doubt.”
Then came the moment the 14 players and three coaches had been waiting for, the chance to hold the NYSPHSAA state championship trophy skyward to present to all their friends and family.
Moriah 61, Newfield 52
NYSPHSAA Class D Championship
Moriah 15 8 14 24 61
Newfield 14 10 12 14 52
Moriah Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
Stahl 15 7 6 0 2
Trombley 20 5 5 2 0
Snyder 13 2 1 2 0
Gregory 0 1 0 1 0
Strieble 2 5 1 0 1
Sargent 6 5 1 1 0
Swan 5 1 0 1 0
Rollins 0 2 0 0 0 TEAM 61 28 14 7 3
Three pointers (9): Stahl (5), Trombley (2), Snyder (2); Free Throws (14-18): Trombley 8-10, Snyder 1-1, Sargent 2-2, Swan 3-3.
Newfield Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
Moraver 17 1 3 0 0
LaBarge 7 2 1 0 0
King 8 2 1 0 0
Banfield 2 9 0 1 2
Clements 18 14 3 1 1
TEAM 52 28 8 2 3
Three pointers (5): Moraver 3, King 2; Free Throws (9-14): Moraver 4-6, LaBarge 1-2, Clements 4-6.