PLATTSBURGH — It’s been a memorable season for the Saranac Lake men’s basketball team, but their shot at the Class B Section VII title will have to wait.
Three days after winning their first playoff game in 15 years, the Red Storm’s promising season came to an end after a 75-54 loss to the Plattsburgh Hornets on Saturday.
Although Saranac Lake went to Plattsburgh as the No. 3 seed, while the Hornets were the No. 2 seed, the two teams looked tied. In the regular season, the teams only played once, with Plattsburgh narrowly claiming a 58-51 victory on January 11.
Red Storm head coach Dermott Morgan says the Hornets seized the opportunity at the right time.
“It’s a team that beat us by seven I think in the regular season” said Morgan. “I really thought we were better than them, the way we played. My hats off to Coach Hartmann and Plattsburgh.
The Hornets caught fire early and drained six three-pointers in the first quarter alone, with Plattsburgh’s Mike Phillips making four of those shots. Phillips scored 15 points in the first quarter and finished the competition with a game-high 21 points.
“(Phillips) didn’t do that to us in Game 1, but hey, hats off to Plattsburgh,” said Morgan.
On the other side, the Red Storm couldn’t do anything and were outscored 27-10 in the first quarter.
“They took Landon Faubert – my shooter – out of the game. They put a really fast guy in him so Landon couldn’t even open up. said Morgan. “They really denied Nate McCarthy the ball. It wasn’t until the second half that we started giving him the ball.
Although Saranac Lake was facing a big deficit, the team came out ready to play in the second quarter.
Led by McCarthy, the Red Storms outscored the Hornets 15-13 before heading into intermission. McCarthy scored eight points in the second quarter, which included a perfect six-on-six from the free throw line.
While Saranac Lake outplayed their opponents in the second quarter, Plattsburgh was still shooting the ball very well. The Hornets’ Ethan Mulholland even hit a three-pointer in the dying seconds of the quarter to make it 40-25 at the halfway point.
“Defensively, we zoned against them in the first half because they haven’t been shooting well all year.” said Morgan. “Coach Hartmann said it was the best they had all season. They made it happen at the right time.
The three-point shot gave Plattsburgh a slight boost early in the third and helped guide them to a 59-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
“We kept trading baskets with them. We finally got the offensive end click, I thought in the second and third quarters,” said Morgan. “But we were trading baskets with them. We had to have stops and we had no stops.
In the fourth quarter, the Red Storms outscored the Hornets 17-16, but the lead was too big for Saranac Lake to climb.
“I’m really proud of the way my kids played. They never give up.” said Morgan. “I think we got it down to under 15 at one point and we were looking to get it down to under 10 in the fourth quarter.”
Along with Phillips, Mulholland and Plattsburgh’s Carter King hit double digits. King scored 15 points, while Mulholland had 14. The trio also combined for 10 three-pointers.
Saranac Lake was led by McCarthy, who scored 20 points in the final game of his high school basketball career. Carter Hewitt of the Red Storms had a solid game, scoring 11 points. Landon LaDue and Markus Navarra had six and five points, respectively.
In addition to McCarthy, a co-captain, two other Saranac Lake seniors played in their final college basketball game. Those two seniors included Gabe Wilson and Ben Clark who combined for six points in the loss.
Morgan said his three seniors would be difficult to replace.
With the win, Plattsburgh moves on to the Divisional Championship where the team will face Northeastern Clinton. For the Red Storm, they end their season with a 13-9 record.
“I can’t be more proud of my guys. It was a good season,” said Morgan. “The future looks very, very bright for Saranac Lake. We had a modified 13-1 team, our JV team was great this year.
“We had a lot of kids in the program who are basketball players, they’re progressing,” he added. “Saranac Lake is going to be tough for the next three or four years. We’re going to be fun to watch.