March 9, 2014

Moriah downs 'Jackets for final four trip

CANTON — Moriah has 21 wins this season.

Saturday’s was the hardest to get.

The Vikings got into foul trouble and couldn’t shake Madrid-Waddington until the final minutes, eventually pulling out a 51-41 victory in an NYSPHSAA Class D boys’ basketball regional final at SUNY Canton.

“We’ve won a lot of games, but we haven’t had to work that hard to win a lot of those games,” Moriah coach Brian Cross said. “And we certainly had to work (Saturday).”

Moriah (21-2) advanced to the state final four for the first time since 2003. The Vikings will play New York Mills in Friday’s semifinal at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

“It’s fantastic. I’ve been dreaming about this day since I was ... playing mini-ball,” senior Tyler Pratt said. “There was talk (of the final four) at the beginning of the season, but we didn’t know where we were going to be ... because we are a very young team.

“The sophomores stepped up. They’re taking over. And we’re there now. It’s a dream come true.”

Pratt scored 10 points, most of which came at crucial times for Moriah.

The Vikings led by two at halftime and stretched it to six early in the third. But the Yellowjackets (14-11) came back to tie it at 31-31 as the fouls piled up for Moriah. The Vikings were whistled five times in the offensive end alone during the third quarter.

Taylor Slattery, the team’s second-leading scorer, picked up his fourth foul with about two minutes left in the third, and Adam Jaquish headed to the bench with four soon after. Neither player returned until the middle of the fourth quarter. Noah Gilbo had three fouls by the end of the third.

Cross said the Vikings had to switch to a zone defense, which they hadn’t really played all year, to try to avoid more fouls.

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