BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There’s no such thing as an easy game in high school basketball sectionals. Both the Catholic Central and Fonda-Fultonville boys teams were pushed to the brink in Saturday afternoon’s Sec. II, Class B quarterfinal round, but the two squads used strong finishes to ultimately prevail, and move on to the semis.
The fourth-seeded Braves kicked off a marathon of basketball at Ballston Spa High School. All four quarterfinals matchups in Class B were held at the home of the Scotties. Fans were treated to a defensive slugfest in game one, as Fonda managed to fend off the 12-seed, Cohoes, and notch a 40-27 victory.
The Tigers were riding the momentum of an opening-round upset of the five-seed, Watervliet, and carried that juice into its’ battle with Fonda, giving the Braves all they could handle.
Fonda maintained a 19-16 lead at halftime, but Cohoes whittled the deficit down to two heading into the final frame. But that’s where Fonda found a second gear; it outscored Jeff Huneau’s bunch 13-6 in the fourth quarter – 11-0 in the final four minutes – punching the first ticket to Cool Insuring Arena.
The Braves awaited the winner of the finale between top-seeded Catholic Central and No. 8 Ichabod Crane – a rematch of last year’s Class B championship game, and the most anticipated quarterfinal bout of the afternoon.
After Ichabod upended Catholic Central to claim a section title in 2022, the Crusaders unleashed some pent-up frustration in the regular season, winning both meetings by an average of 22 points. But the real test was if they could beat the Riders when it mattered most: in the playoffs.
For the first eight minutes of the game, it appeared Ichabod would be handing Guy Di Bacco’s bunch an early exit, but the Crusaders responded with a dominant final three quarters, securing a 73-50 victory.
Ichabod stared the game on a 7-0 run, capped by a transition lay-up from sophomore Quinn Rapport at the 5:20 mark, forcing Di Bacco to call an early timeout.
And that stoppage did little to help Catholic Central. The Riders continued to score at will; senior Alex Schmidt poured in a deep three-pointer in the waning seconds of the opening quarter to give his team a 21-7 edge.
But the Crusaders came roaring back in the second stanza. After freshman Qwameik Smith cut the deficit to single digits at 25-17, Catholic Central came up with a steal, and freshman phenom Darien Moore converted an old-fashioned, three-point play at the other end, and the lead was down to five for Ichabod with 3:53 remaining before halftime.
Then, with 2:14 to play, freshman Sei’Mir Roberson dropped in a floater in the lane to tie the game up at 26. The Crusaders would take the lead at the free throw line, and maintain a one-point edge heading into the locker room.
And it was all Catholic Central in the second half. It outscored Ichabod 25-18 in the third quarter, and 19-4 in the fourth, earning the 73-50 win.
Roberson led all scorers with 25 points – one shy of a season-high. Moore joined him in double figures with 16, as did eighth grader Xavjon Arroyo, who netted 10.
The Riders had three players reach double figures; seniors Jack Mullins and Daniel Warner tallied 13 points, while Schmidt chipped in 10.
Catholic Central and Fonda-Fultonville will now meet Tuesday in the semis. It’ll be a 6:30 p.m. tip from Cool Insuring Arena.
Cohoes ends its’ season with a 6-16 record. Ichabod Crane’s year comes to a close; the Riders finished with a 12-10 overall record.