’Jacks dominate in title game

CANTON – The Tupper Lake boys basketball team dominated Brushton-Moira Saturday in the Section X, Class C championship game at SUNY Canton.

The Lumberjacks won by a score of 78-40, outplaying their opponents in every major facet of the game. Tupper Lake will now play against the Section VII, Class C winner on March 4 at SUNY Potsdam.

“It feels fantastic,” Lumberjack coach Steve Skiff said. “It’s been almost four months since we started this season, and it’s been such a great group of kids to work with, and it’s been a goal for them all along. Every team starts with that goal. To get here and to win it – feels great.”

The Lumberjacks wasted no time going to work in this contest, jumping out to a 21-4 lead after one quarter.

Guards Anson Gagnier and Cody LaPierre got things going early by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lumberjacks. Senior center Mitch Keniston then hit one of two free throws to give his team a 7-0 lead.

Brushton then got its first points of the game when guard Adam Martin, who led his team with 11 points, made a layup and ensuing free throw after he was fouled on the play.

But Gagnier responded with a layup and foul shot after he was fouled. LaPierre then knocked down another 3-pointer. Keniston then hit a short turnaround jumper to make it 15-3.

And that’s how the rest of the game played out. Tupper Lake was able to score at will, and they allowed Brushton-Moira few opportunities to respond.

“We hit those first two big threes, and I think whatever nerves were there, it just relaxed everybody, and everything seemed to work so well from there,” Skiff said. “We broke really well. We got a lot of nice transition baskets, and then when we didn’t have the break, we ran sets and got some really nice looks inside to Mitch. Then when they were doubling him, we were kicking out and hitting the three. It was clicking. Everything was clicking tonight. We did a great job on the boards. We got a lot of contributions, and we got a lot of different guys. It all came together.”

Considering the significance of the contest, it was probably the best overall game of the season for the Lumberjacks, who improved to 14-6 with the win.

The win was also the third of the season for Tupper Lake against Brushton-Moira.

“Coach told us that even though we beat them twice, they’re going to come out competitive and fired up and want to beat us,” LaPierre said. “We had awesome practice all week. That’s what led us up to this moment.”

Skiff and some of his players credited a strong week of practicing for the great game they played Saturday.

“We had a full week of practice, and we were really pushing each other in practice, so we could come out and get at it tonight,” Keniston said. “I thought our defense really stepped up tonight, and that’s what we’ve been working in practice. We’ve really been getting on each other and being physical and trying to get harder on each other so we can work harder in the games.”

Keniston was dominating in the post, scoring at will. He led all players with 29 points.

As has been the case for much of the season, Keniston and his teammates complemented each other perfectly. Tupper Lake hit seven 3-pointers on this afternoon.

LaPierre had the hot hand for the Lumberjacks as he hit four 3-pointers on the way to 16 points. Gagnier also hit two 3-pointers and scored 11 points. Vondell Wesby hit the other 3-pointer. The backup senior point guard only scored three points but provided energy off the bench. As usual, Tupper Lake’s bench played well overall. Forwards Roger Delair and Devin Larson contributed five and six points, respectively.

Forward Nash Botala also had five points, playing at times for starter Nick Dukette, who picked up three fouls in the first half. When Dukette played, he did a good job of keeping the ball moving and finding the open jump shooter.

Tupper Lake’s next game is on Wednesday. It is part of the Section X tournament for individual class champions. Section X has Class A, B, C and D teams. Skiff said Saturday he wasn’t sure whom his team would match up against. This game isn’t part of the state tournament. The winners of the two Section X games this week will meet on Saturday.