March 4, 2013


New York Mills tops Red Lions in ‘D’ final


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Nick Lindley of Cincinnatus Central (14) gets in the face of New York Mills’ (22) Nick Comendale in the third quarter at Sunday’s Class D title game at the Carrier Dome.

Staff Writer

SYRACUSE — The Cincinnatus Central boys’ basketball team went into halftime of Sunday’s Section 3 Class D championship game at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome with some positive vibes.
The fourth-seeded Red Lions trailed New York Mills 31-23 at the break, having recovered from a 11-0 run by the No. 2 Marauders after the teams had split the first 18 points of the game.
Then came the third quarter.
New York Mills, the eighth-ranked Class D team in the state, went on a 7-1 run to start the stanza by pounding the ball inside against a smaller Cincy squad to build a comfortable lead. The Marauders ended up with an 18-9 scoring advantage in those fateful eight minutes to hold a 49-32 lead heading into the fourth.
The ultimate margin was the only remaining suspense by then, the Marauders ending up on the long end of a 60-35 final score for the 500th win in the 32-year career of coach Mike Adey — who’s in his 15th season as the Mills head man.
“They beat us back on offense three or four times, pushed the ball quickly and rebounded,” Red Lions coach Jim Halstrom said of the third quarter, his team ranked 11th in the state in Class D and having finished at 16-4.
“We did a good job defensively in the first half, but gave up too many easy baskets (in the second),” he added. “I told them at halftime that it was a four possession game and that we had to be patient and make every possession count, but we didn’t do that. Their defense had something to do with that, but it wasn’t a good job by us of making the first quick pass after getting past halfcourt.”
Junior guard Nick Comenale finished with a game-high 20 points to lead New York Mills, and also came up with five steals while being named the tournament MVP, though the Marauders second half success inside was more telling.
“THEY PICKED THEIR intensity up and went to their big men more than I thought they would. They passed the ball well. We wanted to try to force them outside on offense a little,” noted Coach Halstrom. “We went to a 3-2 zone (from man-to-man) to try to cut down on their post feeds, overloading to one side and trying to keep them out of the paint, but we still got beat a lot in the third by the long ball. They got a lot of second-chance opportunities too, because it’s not a good defense to rebound out of. It was risky, but we had to try something.”
“We went to a 1-3-1 zone in the third and got three or four steals in a row,” said Adey, whose team, now 19-3, won the overall sectional D title for the fourth time in five years and has claimed five of the last seven D crowns.
“We wanted to get the ball to Zach Vennaro a little more for inside shots, and we did a good job of making the extra pass,” Adey added. “Nick Comenale did a great job, scoring and making three great passes in the second half. They came out in man-to-man and went to a little zone in the third and fourth, and it was a good thing for us that we were able to respond to their runs with longer runs.
“Cincinnatus is a nice team. They surprised us a little with their 3-pointers (three in the first quarter, four for the game) because they didn’t shoot many when we saw them last week,” he added, referring to Cincy’s 63-47 win over top-seeded rival McGraw. “I think they were more happy to beat the top seed, but I like that team a lot. Their coach does a really good job, and they gave us some trouble early.”
“Cincinnatus is a nice team. They surprised us a little with their 3-pointers (three in the first quarter, four for the game) because they didn’t shoot many when we saw them last week,” he added, referring to Cincy’s 63-47 win over top-seeded rival McGraw. “I think they were more happy to beat the top seed, but I like that team a lot. Their coach does a really good job, and they gave us some trouble early.”
JUNIOR FORWARD Vennaro, the tallest of a New York Mills front-line trio at 6-foot-5 that also includes senior forwards Jacob Kehrli (6-3) and Cody Mariotti (6-4), scored six of his 16 points in the third, led the winners with 13 rebounds for a double-double and was named to the all-tournament team.
“We had to spread out our offense to get more looks, and when we did we were able to get layups down low,” Vennaro said. “We knew it was close at halftime, but also felt that it was a matter of time until we’d be able to get the ball down low and score more.”
The Red Lions scored the first five points of the game on a jumper from the right by senior forward Bryant Loomis and a 3-pointer from the right elbow by junior guard Shea Feehan, both of whom were named to the all-tournament team, but the Marauders responded with the next five points to tie it. The game was also deadlocked at seven and nine apiece before New York Mills took the lead for good with its 11-point run, with six of that total coming from Comenale.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Loomis and senior guard Mickey Halstrom pulled Cincy to within 20-15 after the first quarter, but Comenale had six more in the second to help his team to the eight-point halftime lead.
“I think everyone was nervous in the first quarter, but in the second we settled in and started playing our game,” Comenale said. “We knew that Cincinnatus was a good team, but weren’t expecting so many 3-pointers from them. The coaches made adjustments at halftime, we came out in the 1-3-1, running up and down, pushed the ball well and were able to get a lot of easy layups.”
WITH THE OUTCOME already decided the Red Lions scored just three points in the fourth quarter, giving them a total of 20 over the final three stanzas after putting up 15 in the first. They were scoreless in the fourth until two free throws by senior guard Nick Peri with 4:06 left made it a 54-34 game, and Feehan got their final point on another free throw with 50.2 seconds left. Feehan led Cincy in scoring with 13 points, while Mickey Halstrom added seven and Loomis had six.
Senior forward Nick Lindley had six rebounds and four steals while Halstrom, Loomis and junior center Jake Knapp had five boards each as Cincy had a 31-29 rebounding advantage. New York Mills got six assists from senior guard Jon Ross, while no one had more than two assists for the Red Lions.
“This season was fun because of the players, who made it fun to come to practice,” Halstrom said. “That’s what I’ll forever remember. It’s sad to see our seven seniors go; they’re great kids.”
In addition to Loomis, Mickey Halstrom, Peri and Lindley, Sunday’s game also marked the end of high school basketball for guard Jesse Constantino, center Julian Gingeleski and guard-forward Chris Hall.
Also named to the all-tournament team were McGraw sophomore guard Collin Pickert and Faith Heritage senior forward-guard Luke Last. Adey was honored as Class D Coach of the Year.
AS FOR HIS 500TH win (against 162 losses), Adey, who previously coached at Rome Catholic and New Hartford, smiled and said: “It means I’m old. But what better place to get it than the Carrier Dome? It’s very humbling and kind of cool, really. I’ve had really great players and great assistants, including my son Brian, who could be the head coach for any team around but has stayed with me for 15 years.”
The New York Mills program now has 13 sectional crowns, the most of any D school, and two state championships, including in 2011 under Adey.
The Marauders get a first-round bye in the state tournament, as does Section 4 Class D champion Marathon (10-12). Those two teams will meet Saturday at a Section 4 site to be determined, a trip to Glens Falls and a berth in the state semifinals going to the winner.
“They’re a good team,” Adey said of the Olympians, having scouted their 60-55 win over top-seeded Morris in the sectional title game Saturday. “They beat a good team. They play well, and they play hard. We’ll really have to get to work in practice this week.”


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