BINGHAMTON — Lake George was going for its third state boys basketball title in the last five years Saturday, but Moravia’s players were trying to win for a teammate they weren’t sure, at one point, would see this moment.
Capping off a dramatic season, Moravia held Lake George’s 3-point shooters in check and won the Class C final, 54-39, in the State Boys Basketball Tournament at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
When the Blue Devils were called out to center court for their medals, the loudest cheers came for Dustin Mondics, who was pushed out in a wheelchair. Mondics, a senior, was severely injured in a motor vehicle crash with a tractor trailer after hitting a patch of black ice in December. Firefighters worked for about 30 minutes to extract him from his vehicle. He was airlifted to Upstate University Hospital with multiple broken bones, a severe loss of blood and a small brain bleed. He was on life support at one time.
But he has recovered to the point that he’s been with the team for about the last four games, and as tournament MVP Gabe Short said, “he is the heart of our team.”
On the court, however, it was Short’s work on the boards and his teammates’ timely baskets that did in Lake George (21-6). Kaleb Stayton led three double-digit scorers with 17 points. All-tournament-team selection Jordan Crossgrove added 12, while Short had 10. All five starters had at least seven points.
The 6-foot-4 Short was a beast on the boards, pulling down 15 and also being a dominating presence in the paint.
“We played unbelievable defense and rebounded the crap out of the ball,” Short said.
Lake George trailed 13-10 after the first quarter, but Moravia outscored the Warriors 15-6 in the second quarter, which provided Lake George with a hole it couldn’t crawl out of.
A 10-foot jumper by Caleb Scrime closed Moravia’s lead to 28-21, but Moravia answered that time, and also right after Kalab Helms’ 3-pointer made it 38-30.
“That’s part of being a champion,” Lake George coach Dave Jones said. “When they had a little bit of adversity, they had someone step up and make a play. You know, for us, we didn’t quite knock down those shots at key points of the game.”
Lake George didn’t get as many shots as it normally would. It finished 16 of 49 from the field, including 6 of 28 on 3-pointers.
“They’re very active on defense; they did a great job of closing out and defending the arc,” Jones said. “It made it difficult to get good looks on shots. We probably could have done a better job moving the ball (and) had better opportunities by reversing it. We couldn’t get that one extra pass.”
The 39 points tied a season-low for Lake George.
Helms led the Warriors with 12 points and eight rebounds. Scrime, who was chosen for the all-tournament team, scored 11 before fouling out late. Alex Jones added 10 points and four assists. Mason Flatley scored six and was named to the all-tournament team.
Lake George again rallied in the fourth, closing Moravia’s lead to 43-36 on a Flatley putback with 3:22 left, but the Warriors had to foul after that, and the Blue Devils went 11 of 15 from the line in the game.
“We really couldn’t put together the type of run we needed to get ourselves back in that game,” Dave Jones said.
Short’s prowess in the middle was a big reason.
“It was our plan to move the ball enough to make him come out and play some defense on the perimeter, if we could have made that extra pass,” Dave Jones said. “We couldn’t get him out of the lanes so we could get easier shots.”
Lake George loses Ian Devlin, Zeke Reynolds, Steve Colletti, Nick Ure, Zack Layton and Helms to graduation. Coach Jones was very appreciative of all their work in delivering Lake George back to the state’s highest stage, but especially the three-year player Reynolds.
“Zeke has been their leader and the mainstay,” Dave Jones said.
“The last thing I said to them,” Dave Jones added, “is it’s hard to put it in perspective, but you are playing on the last night of the season. There’s only two Class C teams left. You have a lot to be proud of.”
Class C State Final
2P 3P FT TP
Carter Flick 0 2 2 8
Kaleb Stayton 2 3 4 17
Jordan Crossgrove 4 1 1 12
Austin Kulas 0 0 0 0
Parker Dickenson 2 1 0 7
Gabe Short 3 0 4 10
Totals 11 7 11 54
Lake George (21-6)
2P 3P FT TP
Zeke Reynolds 0 0 0 0
Alex Jones 2 2 0 10
Mason Flatley 3 0 0 6
Nick Hoffis 0 0 0 0
Kalab Helms 1 3 1 12
Nick Ure 0 0 0 0
Caleb Scrime 4 1 0 11
Zack Layton 0 0 0 0
Totals 10 6 1 39
Moravia 13 15 13 13 — 54
Lake George 10 6 14 9 — 39
Other stats: Short (Moravia) 15 rebounds. Helms (LG) 8 rebounds. Jones (LG) 4 assists.