POTSDAM — The Canton and Ogdensburg Free Academy fans each had something to cheer about and be disappointed over Saturday night at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall. The Section 10 Class B basketball championships featured each school’s boys and girls teams, which split the titles.
Canton’s girls started the doubleheader by beating OFA 55-48 in overtime to win a seventh straight Class B championship.
The boys game wasn’t as competitive as the Blue Devils crushed Canton 77-50 to repeat as champions and win a sixth title in eight years.
CANTON 55, OFA 48 (OT)
Late in the third quarter it seemed like Canton (19-3) would wrap up the championship early and cruise through the fourth quarter, perhaps emptying the bench.
A basket by Katie Chisholm gave Canton a 36-24 edge with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
But the Blue Devils (14-8) started to close the gap, outscoring Canton 8-2 the rest of the third quarter to cut the lead to 38-32.
OFA’s Emily Farrand hit a 3-point basket with 4:07 left in regulation to cut Canton’s lead to 40-39 and Gabrielle Morley scored inside with 2:28 left to put the Blue Devils up 41-40.
“We stopped (Canton) from running and we got a little more offensive continuity going,” said Blue Devils coach Doug Loffler. “We made some key plays and we had a good stretch there where we played some really good defense.”
Canton tied the game with 54.4 seconds left on a free throw from Emily Wentworth, but OFA had the last chance to win the game, inbounding the ball with 2.9 seconds left before a missed shot sent the contest to overtime.
“I was getting nervous, my basketball career was on the line,” Canton’s Sarah Sieminski said. “I knew that this team always just grinds out and if we just stuck with it we could pull out the win, but they played phenomenal defense. They were in our face. We had a good lead on them and they never gave up. I was so nervous (in the last 2.9 seconds). That is like my worst nightmare, as far as ending the season.”
The Golden Bears started overtime strong as Chisholm scored on a pass off the jump ball to put Canton ahead for good. She scored on another lay-up 18 seconds later and wound up with 10 points in the overtime period and 20 for the game to send Canton back to the state playoffs.
“I just knew that I did not want our season to end so I was just willing to give everything I had to make sure we weren’t going to lose,” Chisholm said. “We blew a lead, but Ogdensburg worked hard and they also wanted it bad, so they came back.”
Wentworth finished with 11 points and Sieminski added nine for the Golden Bears.
“Our offense was stymied the whole game, it finally opened up when we got our first couple breaks (in overtime),” Canton coach Jim DiSalvo said. “(Doug Loffler) is always about defense. We work all week to understand what to do against it. They play tough defense.”
Farrand led the Blue Devils with 19 points.
OFA 77, CANTON 50
OFA (18-4) built a 12-3 lead six minutes into the contest and was never challenged by Canton (13-9).
“I thought we shot the ball well and made the extra pass,” OFA coach Mark Henry said. “We were doing what we’ve been doing all year long. We have five seniors who play a ton, they’ve played since second grade together and it’s a really great group of kids.”
Just like it did in football season, OFA relied on a talented group of seniors and displayed offensive balance in the contest.
MeSean Johnson led the Blue Devils, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter and finished with 18 points, passing as often as he shot.
“I liked the way we played together,” Johnson said. “We just shared the ball and played the right way. It’s awesome (making the state playoffs). A lot of stress is relieved. To get (a Section 10 title) my junior and senior year is awesome.”
Jackson Jones, who was OFA’s quarterback in the fall, scored in each quarter and finished with 20 points. Harry Powers hit six 3-point baskets to finish with 18 points.
“We were just playing our regular game, a fast-paced tempo, that’s when we are at our best,” Jones said. “MeSean does a great job bringing it up the floor and pushing our pace. (Canton) is a tough team. They are very sound defensively and they were pushing us at the beginning but we came through with a big (win). We are looking to go deep in the state playoffs.”
Canton was led by the two sons of St. Lawrence University men’s basketball coach Chris Downs. Andy Downs, who will play for the Saints next year, scored 24 points and Chris Downs Jr. added 17.