BEEKMANTOWN — Cameron Orr may be just a freshman, but he already has a place in Lake George boys basketball lore.
The 6-foot guard knocked down the biggest shot of Saturday’s regional final — a 3-pointer that gave the Warriors the lead for good with 4:27 left in a game they had trailed most of the way.
“I was focused on getting back on defense, but I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that we were up by one,” Orr said. “That was a big momentum-shifter.”
“That was the game-changer right there,” said senior center Chris Becker, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. “That’s what put us in the winning mood we needed.”
Orr’s shot brought the Lake George fans to their feet and provided the momentum the undefeated Warriors needed to close out a 54-46 victory over Moriah in a Class C regional final at Beekmantown High School.
Lake George, now 26-0, takes its 54-game winning streak to Binghamton for the State Boys Basketball Tournament, beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. with a semifinal against Middle Early College of Buffalo. It is the defending state champion Warriors’ third straight trip to the Class C final four.
It sure didn’t seem likely in the middle two quarters, when Moriah was running rings around the Warriors with terrific ball movement and a-step-quicker defense.
“They seemed a little quicker than us, we weren’t moving our feet as well as we could have, we weren’t supporting on ‘D’ — and we paid for it,” said Blake White, Lake George’s first-year head coach. “But we kept our composure, we dug in a little bit tougher on ‘D’ and things finally turned our way.”
“They were playing very physical, they’re a very tough team. They’re not here for no reason,” said senior swingman Mason Flatley, who scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. “They pressured our guys great, they moved the ball great.”
Moriah (17-7) seized control with a 13-2 run in the second quarter and led by as many as 10 points, 36-26, in the third quarter. The Warriors rallied with a 12-1 run of their own, capped by a 3-pointer from Flatley for a short-lived 38-37 lead early in the fourth.
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Tied at 39-39, Lake George was scrambling after a missed free throw. The ball passed from Flatley, to Connor Vidnansky in the corner, back out to Alex Leonelli, who dished it to Orr on the left wing. Orr’s long shot dropped through the net for a 42-39 lead that the Warriors would not relinquish.
“I was open in the corner, so (Leonelli) gave it right back to me,” said Orr, who finished with eight points and five boards. “No one closed out, so I had time to get it off and it just went in.”
Flatley smiled when asked about Orr’s 3-pointer.
“He’s going to be great, man. I’m excited to watch him in the future,” he said. “Huge 3, got the crowd going, gave us momentum, gave us energy on defense, made us rebound. He’s a great player.”
“He’s such a great shooter — for a freshman to have that confidence, he’s going to be some player down the road,” White said. “He certainly made a play and then he made a great rebound down (at the other end).”
Putbacks by Vidnansky and Becker pushed Lake George ahead 46-41 with three minutes to play. The Warriors kept Moriah off the boards and went 8 for 10 down the stretch at the foul line.
“Coach did a great job recognizing what was going on on our defensive end — we stopped them when it mattered,” Flatley said. “We weren’t going to let ourselves get bullied — that’s pretty much what they were doing to us, and we weren’t fighting back. And I think we realized that’s what we had to fight back to get back into the game.”
For Flatley, Becker and Vidnansky, this will be a third trip to states in three seasons.
“We’ve got stuff to do — we’ve got business to take care of,” Flatley said. “I think it’s great that these young fellas get to experience this like I did when I was a sophomore. If we play our game, we’ll be fine.”