By ROB JONAS
TROY – After struggling to shut down Wells in the first half, Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville turned up the defensive pressure to pull out a 57-40 victory in the Class D boys basketball regional final Saturday, March 9, at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Wolfpack will join Troy (Class A), Glens Falls (Class B) and Lake George (Class C) in heading to Binghamton for next weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. Our team is excited,” said Jayden Logan-Dillenbeck.
OESJ scored the first six points of the game and led 9-2 midway through the first quarter, but Wells (Section 7) went on an 11-0 run to pull ahead 13-9 early in the second period. The Wolfpack clawed their way back and took a 23-22 lead on Tyler Leon’s layup with 40 seconds remaining. However, Byron Stuart drained a three-pointer with nine seconds remaining to give the Indians a 25-23 halftime advantage.
OESJ switched to a triangle-and-two defensive alignment in the second half, and that messed up Wells’ offensive flow. Jump shots that fell for the Indians in the first half bounced off the rim in the second half, and the Wolfpack pounced on the rebounds to turn the tide.
“We tried to make an adjustment, and fortunately for us, it worked out,” said OESJ head coach Jason Brundage.
Tyler Leon scored six of OESJ’s first eight points in the third quarter to help the Wolfpack take the lead for good. Logan-Dillenbeck and Chris Martin then nailed three-pointers late in the period to put the Wolfpack ahead 44-33. Wells closed the gap to seven points early in the fourth quarter before OESJ pulled away for good.
“We’ve been hitting some threes throughout the playoffs,” said Logan-Dillenbeck, who finished with 10 points and six rebounds. “Chris Martin came off the bench and hit a huge three for us.”
Leon finished with a team-high 25 points and 10 rebounds for OESJ. Travis LaFountain contributed five points, seven boards and six assists.
“I saw a mismatch, and I put up my shots and fortunately they went in,” said Leon.
Shane Kennedy netted 12 points and added nine rebounds for Wells.
Photos by Rob Jonas. Copyright 2019 by Capital Region HS Sports.