GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After a loss to Eagle Academy back on Jan. 27, the Green Tech basketball team sat below .500 at 6-7, and looked like a shade of its’ championship self from a season ago. But as the saying goes, “it’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish,” and the Soaring Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish out Sec. II play.
After reaching the Class AA championship game for a second straight season following Thursday’s thrilling semifinal match with Ballston Spa, Tech, the five-seed, was once again pitted against CBA, the two-seed this year, in the finals. And in convincing fashion, the Soaring Eagles notched their second consecutive section title, dominating CBA 72-36 – the team’s tenth-straight victory since that Jan. 27 loss.
The Brothers hung around to start, trailing just 14-10 after the first quarter. But in the second frame, Tech’s post size, swarming backcourt and sophomore Haisi Mayben’s explosive offense proved too much to handle.
It took all of 2:46 into the second quarter for Tech to up its’ lead to double digits after senior forward Anthony McCray came up with a steal, which led to an easy lay-up at the other end. That, along with one of Mayben’s game-high three trey balls, fueled a 19-3 run to start the quarter, giving the Eagles a 33-13 edge with 2:22 remaining before halftime.
Tech would head to locker room up 41-19 after outscoring the Brothers 27-9 in the second quarter.
And there’d be no let up out of the break. The Eagles posted their best defensive quarter of the evening in the third, holding CBA to just six points, while putting 13 on the scoreboard themselves.
After taking a whopping 29-point lead into the final stanza, Tech coasted to the finish line, claiming the 72-36 win – a total reversal of the 47-43 loss it suffered at CBA back on Jan. 3.
Green Tech head coach DJ Jones recalled after the game how his team managed to soar past preseason expectations, and claim back-to-back section titles.
“Last year we did it; we lost seven seniors,” said Jones. “Comin’ into this year, it was called a “rebuilding year,” and here we are. These guys are young. There’s only three seniors on this team. They stuck together, came to practice everyday just wanting to get better, stay together and (they) understand it starts on the defensive end, and being unselfish.
Mayben’s game-high 17 points helped lead him to being named tournament MVP. Mayben reflected on the tumultuous journey that led the Eagles endured to get back to the top of Class AA.
“We had ups and downs, but towards the end of the season, we all came together as a family,” said Mayben. “We all locked in together, and just accomplished a goal. I feel great; I feel like I could do it all right now. I feel like I could go win states if I wanted to.”
Two other Eagles scored in double figures along with Mayben. Sophomore forward U’Mier Graham posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Ramere Brown added 13 points on 5-9 shooting. And senior guard Jasai King joined Mayben on the all-tournament team.
CBA landed two players on the all-tournament team as well: junior forward Oreo Odutayo, who led the Brothers in scoring with 10 points, and junior guard Kaelan Leak.
Mayben will have an opportunity to back up his claim about going on to win states beginning in sub-regionals. Tech’s opponent in sub-regionals has yet to be announced.
It was also an impressive turnaround season for CBA. The Brothers reached the championship game after starting the year 7-6, then rattling off eight straight victories. It’s a second straight runner-up finish for Dave Domel’s bunch; they end year with an overall record of 15-7.