Schalmont Ends OFA's Magical Season Ride
Updated: Apr 16
BY DAVE SHEA
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Matching up with Schalmont's 6-6 skilled center Shane O'Dell proved to be a tall order for OFA in Tuesday night's Class B Regional semi-final basketball game at Saratoga Springs High School. O'Dell used a variety of low post moves and a deft southpaw touch around the glass to score 37 points on 14 -24 shooting with 11 rebounds and went 9-11 from the free throw.
The Sabres complicated OFA's defensive efforts with a a quick barrage of 3-pointers to open a 38-28 halftime lead and then answered a series of resilient comeback attempts by the Blue Devils to secure a 75-63 victory.
The Sabres (18-6) shot 55 per cent from the floor in victory which advanced the Section 2 Champions to the regional finals at Beekmantown High on Friday night against Section 7 Champion Saranac Central.
Schalmont prevailed in a spectacular scoring duel in the post where OFA's Jackson Jones scored 24 points on 10-21 shooting with 15 rebounds.
"We hadn't seen anyone who attacked the offensive boards like he (Jackson Jones) did. In the second half we boxed out better and that was very important. He is a very good player and we beat a great team tonight," said Schalmont Coach Greg Loiacano.
"Shane O'Dell was huge again for us tonight. He is an instant matchup problem. He can post up smaller players and use his quickness against tall players."
Trent Sargent (3 assists, 3 rebounds) delivered five 3-pointers on 11 attempts when they were most needed scoring 19 points and MeSean Johnson went 5-6 from the free throw line in a nine-point, six-assist effort with three rebounds.
O'Dell went 7-9 from the free throw line and scored 15 points in the fourth quarter where he played the final four minutes with four fouls. OFA cut the difference to four points on clutch 3s by Trent Sargent, Connor Griffith and Brogan LaRose but were denied as the Sabres' made 12 of 15 free throws in the final quarter where the Devil hopes subsided when point guard MeSean Johnson drew two quick fouls to foul out.
The Sabres outside compliment featured Tyler Pepicello who buried four of six 3-point attempts scoring 12 points. Trent Randall scored 10 points on 3-5 shooting, Austin Redmond hit two of three 3-point shots scoring eight points and Jake Sanford (3 rebounds, 2 steals) added five points.
Griffith (2 assists) finished with five points and Harry Powers hit a 3-pointer and passed out three assists).
The contest ended a gratifying 20-5 season, led by seniors MeSean Johnson, Jackson Jones, Connor Griffith, Harry Powers and Brogan LaRose, for OFA's Overall Section 10 Champions. Jones and Johnson played their way into prominent places in school history.
The selfless senior leadership was part of magic winter season for Blue Devil teams performing in front of large and animated crowds. Two spectator buses and a large community contingent made the trip to Saratoga on Tuesday.
"I was not ready for this ride to end. This group has bonded so much during the season. They are such loyal friends and always take care of each other. The friendship goes beyond the players. It extended between the players and coaches. I can not say enough great things about the assistant coaches, who showed up every day to practice and worked so hard to prepare these young men. While the outcome will sting for some time, these guys are winners on and off the court," said OFA Coach Mark Henry. "Tonight Schalmont was the better team. We struggled at times to gather rebounds and they shot the ball very well tonight. We cannot thank the community enough. The support of our student body and fan section tonight was great. There was way more blue than green in Saratoga. Overall, it was a fantastic season. What an eclectic group. Impossible to find a more eclectic group of coaches and players. But we had one thing in common, working as hard as we could to reach our goals and caring about one another."