OFA Notes Milestones Moving Into Section 10 Finals
BY DAVE SHEA
POTSDAM - The Blue Devils of OFA crammed a lot of highlights onto the Jerry Welsh Court at SUNY Potsdam, on Tuesday, on their way to returning for the Section 10 Boys Basketball Playoff Finals for a second straight year and for the sixth time on the last eight years.
The number 8 state-ranked Class B champions (19-4) turned in a total team impressive offensive and defensive performance in a high speed 82-31 break-away victory over number 15 Class C Champion Madrid-Waddington (18-5) where senior center Jackson Jones scored his 1000th career point in the midst of a string of 22 straight points by the Blue Devils in the first quarter.
The early run anchored the win which carried OFA into Friday's Section 10 Championship game at SUNY Potsdam against Class A Champion Malone (7:45 p.m.) which handed Class D Champion Chateaugay its first loss of the season in a 68-49 decision.
The Blue Devils and their NAC Central rival Huskies (16-6) will play for the overall crown for a second straight year. Malone, which received Class A Honorable Mention, downed number one Class D Chateaugay (23-1) in a meeting of neighboring Franklin County Schools in the first game of the night which followed the NAC Awards Presentation.
The Section 10 Class Semi-Finals (Hammond vs Malone 6 p.m., Canton vs SLC 8 p.m.) and NAC Girls Basketball Awards will be held tonight at SUNY Potsdam.
OFA will enter Class B regional semi-final action on Tuesday, March 10 against the Section 2 Champion (Schalmont or Mechanicville) at Saratoga High School at 5:30 p.m. OFA Athletic Director Tony Bjork urges Devil fans planning attend to arrive as early possible to purchase a ticket and get a seat. No advance tickets will be sold.
"Really a fun weekend for OFA sports. Friday night for the overall championship and Saturday the cheerleaders and the hockey team compete in state competition. We had another great crowd tonight and I hope to see a wave of blue and white at all three events. Great fan base for all sports," said OFA Coach Mark Henry.
JOHNSON WINS JUKOSKI AWARD
The NAC Awards presentation climaxed with OFA senior guard MeSean Johnson being honored as the 2020 recipient of the Joe Jukoski Memorial Award from a group of four outstanding floor leaders.
The other finalists were: M-W's All-Time Scorer Brennan Harmer who has scored well over 1400 points (and counting) in his four-year career, Chateaugay senior, NAC East MVP and Section 10's first basketball player to score over 2000 points, Jonah McDonald and Harrisville senior and NAC West MVP Jadon Sullivan who reached 1000 points earlier this season and was honored as a NYS Final 4 All-Star team after playing a lead role in the Pirates' state championship last season.
"This award really means a lot to me because any one of us could have won it. This is a great group of players," said MeSean Johnson, who is averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals per game with a 70 per cent shooting percentage and an 8-1 assist to turnover ratio in the current season.
Before receiving the Jukoski Award, which presented by NNY Boys Basketball Officials Board, he shared the NAC Central MVP Award with teammate Jackson Jones. All five Blue Devil starters earned All Central Division Awards. Trent Sargent also made the First Team and Connor Grffith and Harry Powers both received Second Team honors. Brogan LaRose received the team's Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.
Speaking of the son of Danielle Denoncourt, who is OFA's single season and career assist leader, OFA Coach and NAC Central Division Coach of the Year Mark Henry said: "MeSean has shown growth as a basketball player, but more importantly he has shown immense growth as a young man. He controls the game at both ends of the court. He always defends the the opponent's best player and does an amazing job orchestrating our offense. He has become a great role model for the youth of Ogdensburg."
Johnson has compiled a scholastic average of 94, has been an All-NAC Central selection the last three years and is a member of the National Honor Society. He volunteers as a coach for Biddy Basketball and at the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club. He plans to take his basketball career to the collegiate level at Clark University, Hilbert College or Castleton University.
JONES JOINS ELITE 9 BLUE DEVILS
The OFA, M-W semi-final game opened with Yellow Jacket guard Brennan Harmer throwing down the gauntlet for his team sinking a floater down the lane and swishing a long 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 5-0 lead.
The Devils answered, answered and answered running off 22 straight points and taking a 22-8 first quarter lead followed by a 25-1 run in the second quarter. Jackson Jones became the ninth OFA Boys Basketball player to reach 1000 points with a inside three-point play in the first quarter and joined the elite company of Kinnon LaRose (1769 2011-2015), Gene Bouyer (1416, 2007-10), Mike Harrison (1338 1988-1992), Tom DuPre' (1319 1974-77), Cale Sargent (1290 2015-2018), Terry Vernsey (1013 1988-1991), Mike Mitchell (1119 1989-1992) and John Wright (1041 1984-1987).
"This is a team award and I share it with my teammates. It is great to do it tonight when we advanced to finals. It is good to get it done and concentrate on the big picture," said Jones who scored 13 points in the first half, grabbed 13 rebounds and four steals and blocked two shots. MeSean Johnson tallied a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals and Trent Sargent tallied 18 points with 6-6 foul shooting three steals and two assists.
John Powers buried four 3-pointers scoring 12 points, Kam Johnson led the reserves' scoring with six points and Brogan LaRose scored four. Connor Griffith (4 rebounds, six assists, 2 steals) netted a 3-pointer in a high energy floor game, JD King and Logan Horton also connected on 3-pointers and Aiden LaFlair added a free throw.
"This was a great night on so many levels. MeSean winning the Jukoski. Jackson getting his 1000th point. Both are so deserving. It seems like I keep repeating myself, but this is such a special group of young men. They come to the gym ready to work hard every day. They have done that since they started playing hoops as youngsters. They genuinely care about each other and are so unselfish. We have improved so much, in all aspects of the game throughout the season. All 12 players have. Especially on the defensive end and working with Coach Sargent every day," said OFA Coach Mark Henry.
"Tonight we really clamped down a good Madrid-Waddington team. They are so well coached and Brennan Harmer is an excellent player. We need to be ready on Friday to play 32 minutes of basketball against Malone. They played very well tonight against Chateaugay."
Brennan Harmer tallied 11 points with six assists and three rebounds and Trent Lashua tallied eight points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Yellowjackets.
"We were just so passive in the first half, like we were playing scared. That surprised me. OFA is an extremely impressive team and they really got on a roll. I hope they keep it going for a long time," said M-W Coach Aaron Jones who will have his team back at Maxcy Hall next Wednesday to host the Section 7 champion in the Class C regional semi-finals.
"We came back in the second half especially Trent Lashua. I hope we learned from this that we can't back off when we play a talented team in the states."
Rounding out the M-W scoring were: Drew Harmer (2), Kaden Kingston (2), Nick Beldock (3), Cody Beldock (2), Jacob Morgan (2 points, 3 rebounds) and Sage Cordwell (1) who grabbed four rebounds.
Brennan Harmer and Trent Lashua were both honored as First Team All-NAC East performers and Kyle Stoner was voted to the Second Team. Lashua also received the team's Outstanding Sportmanship Award.
MALONE HANDS CHATEAUGAY FIRST LOSS
The first game of the night saw Malone get defensive and offensive contributions deep into its roster winning individual matchups.
"These guys know each other very well and tonight it was all about man-to-man defense. It was all man to man and we did a great job making them work for everything," said Malone Coach Tim LaMay.
Chateaugay's NAC East MVP and 2000-point scorer Jed McDonald scored a game-high 26 points with 10-10 free throw shooting and grabbed five rebounds in the face diligent tough, physical on the ball defense from a rotation of Huskies.
Keegan Monnette provided a vital 15 interior points for the Huskies with seven in a 23-11 fourth quarter pull-away.
All-NAC Central First Team All-Star Payton Poirier and Jake VanSteenburg each scored 10 points in the contest where the offense was centered on around strong drives to the goal by both teams. Gavin Barse tallied seven points and Second Team Central Division All-Star Aden Decillis finished with six. Other scoring came from: Damien Poirier (4), NAC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award recipient Keith Shafer (3), Alexjan Sosa (4), Alex Preve (2), Jacob Lewis (3) and Pat Poirier (4).
First Team All-NAC East All-Star Jed McDonald scored six of his 11 points in the first quarter for the Bulldogs and another First Team All-Star Walker Martin added three points. Other scoring came from: Carson Richards (4), Silas Lewis (5) and Matt Beaudin (3).
"Malone did a nice job playing really physical defense tonight. Congrats to them on their win. Now we can turn our focus to the big picture. We have a a lot of time to really focus for the Regional Final game. Good luck to Malone moving forward as well," said Chateaugay Assistant Coach Jason LaPlante.
NOTE: MeSean Johnson (sitting right in photo below) received 2020 Joe Jukoski Memorial Award. Other finalists from left are : Jadon Sullivan of Harrisville, Jonah McDonald of Chateaugay and Brennan Harmer of Madrid-Waddington. Standing are the finalists parents and members of the Section 10 Officials Board who present the award.