OFA Seniors Celebrate Central 8-Peat
BY DAVE SHEA
OFA's senior fivesome of Connor Griffith, MeSean Johnson, Jackson Jones, Harry Powers and Brogan LaRose first played basketball together in Biddy Basketball at OFA's Bill Merna Court.
Since that time they enjoyed memories of the highest level on courts all over New York State.
On Tuesday they added to their career highlights as they played together for long stints of the game in an impressive Senior Night 77-42 win over Malone.
A game played at an alarming pace that clinched an eighth straight NAC Central Division Championship for the OFA program.
The Devils climbed to 12-0 in the division and 13-4 overall while posting their second win over the Huskies (10-2, 12-5).
OFA finishes division play with trips to Gouverneur and Canton and then travels to NAC West leading Harrisville and reigning New York State Class D Champion Harrisville on Feb. 14 in its regular season finale.
Guard MeSean Johnson established the breakneck pace right off the center jump and raced through traffic in the lane as deftly as a gazelle in a china shop scoring 27 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals and in the course of the game the school's single season and career record-holder noted his 500th assist.
Jones operated above crowd all evening grabbing 13 of his 16 rebounds on the defensive boards and scored 20 of his 26 points in a 40-22 first half lead anchored by an 18-0 run. Griffith scored nine points, with three very strong finishes at the goal, and junior Trent Sargent also scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds.
LaRose finished with four points including the prettiest hoop of the night where he converted inside off touch passes from Johnson and Jones. Logan Horton added a field goal.
The five seniors and senior cheerleaders Taylor Bell, Erin Perretta, Rylee Bresett, Ally Latimer, Melissa Barr, Isabelle Powers, Hailey Webber, Emily French and Evelyn Arras were all honored in a Senior Night Ceremony before the game.
OFA's Cheering squad will begin its competition season by taking part in the Lisbon Central Competition on Friday night and hosting their Blue Devil Cheering Competition on Sunday ( 3 p.m. start).
"This is a very special group of five seniors. Tonight they continued to play so well as a team. They share the ball so well, care about each other and the are more concerned with the team's success before any individual stats. It is really a special group who have put in so much time in the off season. Their parents are such a big part of their success" said OFA Coach Mark Henry.
" MeSean and Jackson are such a difficult match up for most teams. They played very well tonight. Connor continues to play at a high level. Harry and Brogan have improved defensively so much this season and are always threats on the offensive end."
The Devils' man to man defense limited the Huskies' formidable guard-oriented offense access to the lane, allowed very few good looks at 3-pointers and even fewer second shot opportunities on the offensive boards. Peyton Poirier led Malone with 11 points followed by seven points from Keegan Monette and six points from Aiden DeCillis and Damien Poirier. Gavin Barse and Patrick Poupore scored five points and Jake Van Steinburg added two.
The Malone JVs stayed undefeated on the season in the preliminary game but needed to weather a relentless comeback by the Devils in a 52-48 victory. The Devils survived Malone's 7-11 three-point shooting in the first half, rallied from a nine-point deficit and earned a chance to shoot for a tie on a good look at a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play.
Jace Hammond buried four 3s leading Malone with a game-high 19 points. Evan Miller connected on three treys scoring 11 points and Gunvir Johal struck twice from behind the arc scoring 10 points.
Andrew Loffler scored a season-high 14 points to lead OFA and Aiden LaFlair and Ryan Mitchell each came through with 10. Johnson scored nine and Shea Polniak and Connor Graveline added three and two.
"This was just a great effort by our team. Everyone just stepped up tonight, handled the ball well and played a great game," said OFA Coach Dakota Brady.
In other NAC Central varsity games Massena downed St. Lawrence Central 57-25 and Canton defeated Salmon River 65-40.
MASSENA, CANTON POST WINS
Massena 57 - SLC 25: The Raiders' senior players enjoyed an outstanding curtail call checking a proven SLC squad after opening a 15-2 first quarter lead. Chris McGregor turned in a game-high 21 points and Ethan Firmstein controlled the paint with six points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
"Great night on Senior Night. The boys played well. Solid night on defense. Chris McGregor great night all around. Ethan Firnstein had a big night in paint with 11 boards and 5 blocks," said Massena Coach Brandon Downs.
Other Massena (6-6, 9-9) scoring came from: Nick LaBarge (8), Luke Greco (2), Ethan Barney (6), Ryan Hererick (9), Hayden Amo (2) and Adam Peets (3). Ansen Weegar tallied nine points in a stunted Larrie (5-6, 9-8) offense. Other scoring came from Steve Horner (4), Cash Feeley (3), Hayden Perkins (3), Cayden Taylor (2), Grant Taylor (2) and Hunter Arquiett (2).
Canton 65 - Salmon River 40: Chris Downs scored 16 points leading a Canton (9-03, 11-7) offense featuring four players in double figures. Josh Kennedy tallied 13 and Andy Downs and Ashton Cloce each connected for 10. Other scoring came from: Nathan Furnia (2), Caleb Bentley Hicks (2), Josh Longshore (6), Zach VanBrocklin (2) and Sam Fadden (4),
Logan Lebeham tallied 13 for Salmon River (2-10, 6-12) followed by Tyler Huto with eight and Hawi Francis-Cook with seven.