|Richfield Springs’ Dan Bloomfield makes a layup during Sunday’s Section III Class D championship game at Syracuse University’s Manley Field House. Bloomfield had 12 points, but the Indians lost, 66-42. (Photo by Mike Root)|
SYRACUSE – Sackets Harbor did it all, Sunday. The Patriots played great defense, they scored inside and out, they rebounded and they got up and down the floor very quickly. That combination overwhelmed Richfield Springs, who was handed its worst loss of the season, 66-42, in the Section III Class D boys basketball finals at Syracuse University’s Manley Field House.
Sackets Harbor’s 2-3 defense had the Indians frustrated all morning.
“Our guards can mount pressure, our quickness up top and our wings have become real good anticipators at sliding their feet,” Patriots head coach Jeff Robbins said. “There was a point this year where I got on the kids because we weren’t playing physical. We were physical today, and I think we definitely took them out of what they wanted to do.”
It’s almost amazing to think that a team that played the zone so effectively spends most of its time practicing man-to-man defense.
“We really don’t practice the zone a lot,” Robbins said. “What we do is practice all our man principles and apply them to the zone. We play it like it’s man-to-man and it confuses teams.”
Richfield head coach Bill Stevens said the Indians (21-3) hadn’t seen a team like Sackets Harbor (19-5) all season.
“They’re very physical,” Stevens said. “I don’t think we’ve been in a game all year where anybody has been that physical. We haven’t seen that kind of play all year.”
The Class D-2 champion Patriots trailed by one point entering the second quarter, but outscored Richfield, 21-7, in that period.
The Indians, winners of the D-1 title, would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way. Alex Sovocool’s basket midway through the third quarter made the score 38-28, but sophomore Gage LeClair hit back to back three pointers and Sackets took a 16 point lead into the final period.
LeClair hit two more threes in the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points. Nick D’Alessandro also had 18 for the Patriots.
“They’re a complete team,” Stevens said. “They shoot the ball, they handle the ball, they play defense, they rebound, they’ve got quickness, they’ve got a lot better size than we realized. I didn’t think they were gonna be that big. That surprised us a little bit.”
Robbins said it comes down to confidence and defense right now.
“They’re so confident,” Robbins said. “They’re really starting to believe in themselves. It flows from one guy to the next. We’re playing really well right now and we just have to keep it going. The defense is what’s gonna key everything.”
Stevens believes his Indians came in a little awestruck.
“I think we were nervous,” Stevens said. “I think we were lost. I didn’t think that was gonna happen, but it did, obviously. We just didn’t play our game.”
State ranked No. 6 Richfield turned the ball over 24 times and missed 70 percent of its shots.
Sovocool’s 13 points led the Indians, and Dan Bloomfield had 12, while Fred Russ had 10.
Even though he would probably like to soon forget this game, Stevens is proud of his team’s memorable season. Richfield won its first sectional championship and first league title.
“This team is just a class team,” Stevens said. “I’ve coached 21 of them, and you love every team that you have, but this team is full of class every night. You never have to worry about anything with them – their behavior, their sportsmanship – anything.”
Sackets Harbor advanced to the state regional game where it will play Section IV’s Roxbury (20-2), who is ranked seventh in the state.