Tupper Lake boys come up short in Section X semifinal

TUPPER LAKE – The Tupper Lake boys basketball team fell to Canton 55-42 Friday night in a Section X, Class C semifinals game.

Canton was able to pull out the win with a big fourth quarter when it outscored the Lumberjacks 19-8.

“I give Canton credit,” Lumberjacks coach Steve Skiff said. “They definitely were the better team tonight. They executed very well, and we would have lapses where we would go two or three trips down the court, and we just weren’t running our offense.”

With the win, No. 4 seeded Canton will advance to the Section X finals against St. Lawrence, which beat Brushton-Moira 70-39 Friday night. Tupper Lake was the No. 1 seed in the Section X, Class C playoffs.

Canton’s strategy in this game was pretty straightforward, at least defensively. They wanted to stop Tupper Lake’s junior center Mitch Keniston.

“We tried to take him out of his game, if we could and really disrupt him,” Canton coach Bill Porter said. “We put a smaller guy on him that was a little quicker and tried to double with another kid, so just to limit his touches where we could and just try to make things as miserable as we could for him. He’s a fantastic player. By far, the best player on the floor.”

That strategy seemed to work as Keniston finished with only nine points, far below the 23 points he scored last time the two teams met in mid-January.

During the regular season, the two teams split a pair of games. Canton won the first game at home, and Tupper Lake prevailed in the next meeting in overtime. Keniston tied that game with two seconds left in regulation.

This time, though, Canton did a better job on Keniston defensively and the Lumberjacks had to look elsewhere for offense. In the third period that spark came from Anson Gagnier. The guard scored eight straight points. At the start of the run, Canton led 30-24. By the time it was over, the score was tied at 32 late in the third quarter.

Gagnier started the run with a pair of breakaway layups generated off turnovers created by the Lumberjacks defense. He then went to the foul line three separate times, going 4-for-5. Unfortunately for the Lumberjacks, Gagnier was in foul trouble throughout the game and picked up his fifth that sent him to the bench, with 4:36 left in the game.

“He was playing well at that time,” Skiff said. “He was penetrating well and he was getting to the foul line, and he was giving us a dimension we needed, and then he picked up quick fouls and that hurt because we were having a tough time and Mitch was not having a normal game for Mitch.”

Overall, the Lumberjacks received a balanced offensive game. In the first half, they got some solid play from guard Cody LaPierre, who hit a pair of 3-pointers and two foul shots. He finished with eight points. Forward Nash Batala also scored eight points while playing well on the offensive boards.

Guard Tommy Christy led the Golden Bears with 16 points, while Evan LaPoint had nine. Eight players scored for Canton.

“We tried to use our defensive pressure to get some transition buckets,” Porter said. “That worked a little bit. They did a pretty good job of making it a half-court game. But I think we just had some fall that they didn’t.”