December 8, 2021

Familiar foes clash for Class D boys’ title

File photo/Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer

Marathon’s Diego Castellot (3) soars to the hoop in action against Moravia earlier this season. Castellot and the Olympians look to repeat as Section 4 Class D champion as they face South Kortright at Oneonta State Saturday at 4 p.m

They are two opponents who are familiar with each other when it comes to Section 4 tournament play. Whether it’s soccer, or in this case basketball, Marathon and South Kortright have history when it comes to playing in the big game.

The two will meet in the Section 4 Class D championship game Saturday inside the State University College at Oneonta’s Dewar Arena at 4 p.m.

Marathon (18-3 overall) is the top seed in the Section 4 Class D Tournament and ranked fifth in the New York State Class D poll. South Kortright (20-2) is the second seed in the tournament and ranked seventh in the state.

“South Kortright is a well disciplined team that looks to force teams into hurrying up their offense,” Marathon coach Jim Holland said. “I have seen them play twice. They honestly run an offense similar to ours and love to keep pressure throughout the game, just as we do. It should be a great game. I know (Hunter) Collins had a big game in the semifinals, but they are a complete team with anyone able to score on any given night. They shoot well and I am impressed with how hard they rebound the ball and advance it on the break.”

South Kortright’s Aaron Kaufman is in his third year as head coach after being the JV coach for the Rams nearly 20 years. The Rams have been to the championship twice (2018 and 2020) and lost in the semifinal round in 2019 with this same core of players in the varsity coaching career.

“We are very competitive,” Kaufman said. “I brought many of these guys up from the JVs as sophomores when I became head coach. These guys are used to these type of games from soccer, basketball and baseball. They have been in state tournaments, just like the Marathon guys have. We tried to play a competitive non-league schedule against some Class C teams, along with a Class B and one Class A team this season.”

Marathon has four of its five starters averaging double digits in scoring. Senior guard Diego Castellot is averaging 17.5 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. Senior guard-forward Andrew Tillotson is next with 13 points, seven rebounds, three steals and 2.5 assist per game. Senior forward Kenyon DePuy averages 11 points and 7.5 rebound per game while freshman point guard Conor Holland averages 10 points, four rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 deflections per game. The fifth starter is senior guard Owen Hoyt who averages eight points and four rebounds per game, but really seems to enjoy Dewar Arena. In his last two outings in Dewar, Hoyt has scored 19 points. The first time was last year’s Class D championship game win and the second was in Tuesday’s semifinal win
over Richfield Springs. Sophomore guard Braeden Morrison and junior guard Joey Hulbert are the first guys off the bench in most occasions.

“It’s no secret that the seniors need to play like ones,” Coach Holland said. “They need to stay focused and keep the turnovers to a minimum. I have always said that Diego is a force on the floor at all times and Tillotson changes our team’s dynamics. Hoyt can shoot and Kenyon gives us an inside presence. Their play has been consistent and needs to stay that way, but we need the underclassmen players as well to win big games. Morrison has been lock down on defense for us all year and he will be needed for ball pressures throughout the game. Conor gives us a scorer and a solid ball handler when healthy. It is a big game, but this team has played some tough competition. Hopefully, it will benefit us.”

The starting five for South Kortright are senior power forward Seth Ashline, senior point guard Logan Kaufman, junior guard Hunter Collins, senior power forward Chris Champlin and senior center Joe Shafer. The Rams go deep into their bench with senior center Stanley Andersen, junior guard Griffin Dianich, junior forward Joe Krupa, junior forward-center Brandon Grommeck and sophomore guard Delijah Kenchen. “We need to play our game,” Coach Kaufman said. “I think it will be very competitive. They (Marathon) remind me of our team and I told the guys that we will be looking at each ourselves on the floor. Both teams are very athletic.”