BINGHAMTON — A case of nerves in the opening minutes of Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinal game proved costly for the Marathon Central boys’ basketball team at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.
The Olympians turned the ball over numerous times in the first quarter, which allowed Section 10 champion Harrisville to race to a substantial early lead before a late-game rally by the Olympians made things interesting. Inthe end, the Pirates hung on for a 68-65 win.
Second-ranked Harrisville (21-6 overall) would go on to win its first state title with a 67-54 victory Sunday over the former state number one team, Oppenheim- Ephratah/St. Johnsville (22-4). Marathon ended the season ranked third in the state and winds up 15-10 for the season.
“We needed all the points at the end,” Harrisville coach Brian Coloney said. “Marathon shot unbelievably well at the end, but I have a tough group of kids. They were on a mission. This is what we have been working for all year. Marathon began running their offense better in the second half. I saw them play last Sunday and I knew we would have our hands full. They are a good team and they have a lot of kids coming back next year.
“We’re not the biggest team, but we held them off the boards. We hit foul shots when we needed to late. Our core group has been here for three straight years now. It’s a different feel this season. These guys are all business. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
“Schmitty (Peyton Schmitt) killed us inside,” Marathon coach Jim Holland said. “We did a poor job defensively in the first half and let them get inside for a lot of easy baskets. Harrisville did play good defense and they were in our face because we weren’t moving in the first half.”
Harrisville jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 2:30 of the game. Peyton Schmitt scored twice on lay-ups off steals, Nathan Schmitt hit a floater, Jadon Sullivan buried a pull-up jumper and Dalton Church drove the baseline for a bucket.
Trailing 12-2, Marathon put a little run together that started with an Andrew Tillotson 3-pointer. Diego Castellot drove the lane for two points and Owen Hart contributed with a rare 4-point play. Hoyt hit a trey from the left elbow and was fouled on the shot. He made the free throw as the Olympians trailed 12-11 with 2:28 left in the opening quarter.
Church and Nolan Parow nailed 3-pointers to help close out the first quarter with Harrisville leading 18-13.
The Pirates started the second quarter with a 6-0 run to go ahead 24-13 and Marathon played catch-up the rest of the way. Harrisville led 33-23 at halftime and 46-38 through three quarters.
Harrisville was up 54-44 with 5:41 left in the game and seemed in control, but Marathon had one last rally to try to extend its season.
Tillotson, who sat out a lot of the second and third quarters with four fouls, began to comeback attempt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Two free throws by Hoyt pulled the Olympians to within 54-49 with 4:11 remaining. Parow answered with a trey for the Pirates, which was countered by Castellot to keep the score at 57-52 with 3:26 to go.
After two missed free throws by Harrisville, Mason O’Donnell drove the lane for a basket and Marathon was closer at 57-54 with three minutes to play. When Reinford got a lay-up with 1:46 remaining, the Olympians were within three at 59-56 and Peyton Schmitt hit a big shot on the baseline to put Harrisville up 61- 56 with 1:23 left.
“Schmitt hit the one shot late when we were within three and that put them back up by five,” Holland said. “That was really our run. You could kind of feel the deflation when he hit the little turnaround jumper on the baseline.”
O’Donnell netted two free throws, but Schmitt delivered again with a driving lay-up for a 63-58 Pirate lead with one minute to go.
Tillotson hit his third 3-pointer remaining as Marathon trailed 65-63. The Pirates sealed the win with a free throw by Church with 19 seconds and two more free throws by Schmitt with nine ticks left. Tillotson hit a final 3-pointer with one second remaining, but then time ran out on Marathon.
“Being here three straight years really helped,” Schmitt said. “We are used to this court now. We had a good feeling this year because we did put a lot of work in to get back here.”
Schmitt gave credit to Marathon for not giving up.
“It’s the final four,” Schmitt said. “Emotions are high and the adrenaline is high so you can never count someone out.”
Schmitt scored a game-high 29 points to lead Harrisville’s scoring. Sullivan added 14 points to the Pirates’ attack.
Castellot paced Marathon with 20 points and Tillotson netted 17 points, 12 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Marathon’s Elijah Teeter and Harrisville’s Scott Roberts received Sportsmanship Awards at the end of the game. Castellot was named to the all-tournament team.