MILLS WEARS DOWN RIVAL ORISKANY-MARAUDERS ADVANCE TO CLASS D SEMIFINALS SUNDAY
# 14 Anthony Pickard chased by # 3 Jon Ross in early action at Beekman.
By Nick Sardina
Special to MHTS
The Redskins made eight first-half 3-pointers to race out to a 36-27 lead at the half at a packed Beekman Gym.
The Marauders and longtime head coach Mike Adey were banking on the hope that the Redskins couldn’t maintain that pace over the entire four quarters.
They were right.
Behind a career-high 33 points from junior swingman Nick Comenale and 17 from power forward Cody Mariotti, the second-seeded Marauders (17-3) dominated on both ends of the court in the second half en route to a 71-57 victory to advance to Sunday’s Class D semifinal at Onondaga Community College against third-seeded Faith Heritage.
“I think my team really responded well at the half and I’m really proud how they came out and played in the second half,” New York Mills head coach Mike Adey said.
“(Comenale) played great and Cody played great, but it was because everyone on the court was doing their jobs in the second half. Our shooters were making shots and J.T. (Ross) controlled the game well from the point. ” When we do that, it gives Cody more room inside and spreads things out for Nick.”
Another huge key was the defensive adjustment made by Adey and the Marauders’ coaching staff.
Mills switched from the 3-2 zone that Oriskany (13-7) scorched in the first half, to a mix of tough man-to-man and a trapping 1-3-1 zone.
“We changed our defense and I think that made them think a little, and they didn’t get the looks that they were getting in the first half,” Adey said.
That adjustment was needed because Oriskany freshman swingman Ryan Schmadel and point guard Anthony Pickard each hit three long-range bombs as the Redskins built a 24-12 lead after the first quarter.
Schmadel, who finished with a team-high 16 points and senior guard Austin Smith each hit from behind the arc in the second quarter to counter a few spurts by the Marauders to keep a nine-point cushion heading into the locker room.
After two free throws by Pickard gave the Redskins a 44-34 edge with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Marauders began to impose their will and strength over their rivals.
New York Mills ended the quarter with a 13-2, run as five different players scored to grab its first lead of the game on two free throws by Zach Vennaro, with 38.6 seconds remaining.
New York Mills had seized the momentum, and they quickly pulled away in the fourth as Comenale scored five points in the first 47 seconds to give the Marauders a 52-46 edge.
Comenale, who was clearly the best player on the court Wednesday night, wasn’t done.
The sleek, 6-2 junior converted on several slick drives, and, as all great players do, finished when it counted most, pouring in 12 points in the fourth as Mills steadily extended its lead.
Mariotti, a senior, knew it was going to be tough against Oriskany, as the teams split their regular season meetings, with each winning by double digits on its home floor. Just nine days ago, Oriskany blasted the Marauders 74-58.
“They always come out strong,” said Mariotti, who was a sophomore on Mills’ 2011 state championship team. “But, there was no way we were going to lose that game. Our seniors weren’t going to go out like that. I think our experience definitely helped. We’ve been in so many big games, and know what it takes to go all the way.”
Comenale felt the Marauders just played much better as a team in the second half, which led to easy buckets.
“Offensively we got the ball inside and we were very unselfish, and shared the ball,” said Comenale, whose previous high was 31 in the season opener vs. Morrisville-Eaton.
“(Oriskany) is aggressive defensively and they overplay the point guard, and that left me a lot of openings to drive through, if we moved the ball. I think we have a deeper team, and it was an up-and-down game, and it was hard for them to keep that up all four quarters.”
Pickard, who had a nice game for the Redskins, scoring 15 points, was proud of his team’s fight in his last high school game.
“We came out with a great amount of intensity,” Pickard said. “We kept it up through the third, but they are a great team, and they just kept coming.
“They have a very deep bench and they took the momentum and stamina definitely became a factor in the fourth quarter. We played good and played our hearts out … they are just a great team.”
Oriskany head coach Bob Reid thought Mills’ experience was a huge factor.
“We came out and played extremely well, hitting a bunch of threes,” Reid said. “Mills is very good and they’ve been in that situation before and we let them get to the basket a lot easier in the second half than in the first. Comenale got a lot of easy looks and we didn’t shoot it as well in the second half.”
Reid also thought Wednesday’s game is what’s right about high school basketball.
“It’s a very strong rivalry. Mills had been on top the last 7-8 years, but before that we were on top. It’s always a physical, well-played game and the atmosphere tonight was great, and it’s great for high school hoops.”
Andrew Surprenant finished with 9 points, all coming on 3-pointers. Ross scored six and Vennaro had four to round out the scoring for the Marauders, who have some unfinished business, after losing 62-61 heartbreaker to Sackets Harbor in last year’s Class D final at the Carrier Dome. They are now one win from getting another chance at the title.
New York Mills 71, Oriskany 57
Oriskany 24 12 10 11—57
NY Mills 12 15 20 24—71
Oriskany (13-7): Ryan Schmadel 16, Anthony Pickard 15, Chaz Koss 10, Cody Murphy 9, Austin Smith 7. Totals: 22-5-57. 3-pointers: Schmadel 4, Pickard 3, Smith 1.
New York Mills (17-3): Nick Comenale 33, Cody Mariotti 17, Andrew Surprenant 9, J.T. Ross 6, Zach Vennaro 4, Jacob Kehrli 2.
Totals: 24-17-71. 3-pointers: Surprenant 3, Comenale 2, Ross 1.