GLENS FALLS — Whitehall’s Evan St. Claire drove baseline late in Tuesday’s third quarter in hopes of throwing down a thunderous dunk.
Instead, the 6-foot-2 guard missed the attempt and turned it over.
The blunder did not really matter though, because the Railroaders were ahead by 21, and St. Claire had already scored 24 points.
“I jumped from too far away,” St. Claire said with a laugh after the game. “I would try it again.”
Considering Whitehall was up big, and St. Claire was shooting the lights out, it is hard to blame him for attempting to manifest a highlight-reel moment.
St. Claire added five more points to his total before time expired and Whitehall defeated Germantown 67-51 in a Class D semifinal of the Section II Boys Basketball tournament. The Railroaders will play in a sectional championship game for the first time since 1976 when they face St. Johnsville on Friday at Cool Insuring Arena (5:30 p.m.).
Whitehall (19-4) never gave Germantown an opportunity to advance as the Railroaders jumped out to a 24-7 first quarter lead.
A 12-3 run in the second quarter gave the Railroaders a 39-19 lead at half. Whitehall made 16 of 18 shots in the first 16 minutes and limited the Clippers to 36 percent shooting from the field for the game.
Knowing that no first-half lead is safe, Railroaders coach Keith Redmond urged Whitehall to stay aggressive.
The Railroaders heard their coach’s message, and despite not shooting as well in the second half, their defense stayed intense and they did not allow Germantown back into the game.
“We came out really aggressive, moved the ball well and got good open looks,” St. Clarie said. “In practice yesterday, we knew we had to come out and practice hard to get us ready for this game.”
Taking such a dominant first-half lead is the exact opposite of what Whitehall did in its quarterfinal game against Fort Ann. The Cardinals brought energy in that game that the Railroaders failed to match until the second half.
Whitehall made it a point of emphasis not to come out flat at Cool Insuring Arena with a chance to play in the finals on the line.
“Our lack of energy early in the game on Saturday allowed Fort Ann to stay with us,” Redmond said. “We said in practice that we need to come out in the first eight minutes with an intensity.”
“Tonight their shots did not fall and we got the rebound and off we went.”
Whitehall had two other players join St. Clarie in double figures. Dawson Procella scored 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting and Daniel St. Clair rounded out the Railroaders efficient performance with 12 points, missing only three shots.
St. Claire will have a chance to makeup for his dunk in the Class D championship against top-ranked St. Johnsville (20-2).
It’s been 42 years since the Railroaders played in a Section II final and his coach would appreciate it if St. Claire takes the easy points next time he sees a wide open driving lane.
“Yeah,” Redmond said when asked if he made any comments to St. Claire following his dunk attempt. “You do not want to know what they were.”