The Class B boys bracket experienced a large degree of turnover from last year’s Federation Tournament of Champions.
Two teams — Lawrence Woodmere Academy and Regis High School — return to Glens Falls for the first time since 2006.
Mekeel Christian Academy won its first state championship in any sport Saturday, and though the Lions are new to the Federation Tournament, they are no strangers to the Cool Insuring Arena.
The one returning team is PSAL champion Fannie Lou Hamer of the Bronx, which lost in the semifinals last year to eventual champ LaSalle Academy.
“It’s always top-notch competition,” said Hamer coach Marc Skelton, whose team faces Woodmere in Saturday morning’s semifinals. “We’re excited to play at 9 a.m. — this week is basketball Nirvana. The kids are loving it.”
Fannie Lou Hamer: For a team that only lost two seniors from last year, the Panthers expected to do well after reaching the Federation semis. They won their second straight PSAL title with a 61-51 win over Brooklyn Community Arts and Media.
“We’re the most versatile team in the city,” Skelton said. “We can play half-court, we can speed it up, play full-court defense.”
Hamer is led by the trio of senior Charles Davis, the school’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader, and juniors Tyree Morris and Frankie Williams. Davis is a four-year starter with more than 1,500 career points, point guard Williams leads the team in assists and steals, and the long-range-shooting Morris made the Federation all-tournament team last year.
“Most of the season we had five guys in double figures,” Skelton said. “It’s a very democratic offense, we get everyone involved. They have uncommon maturity — they’re happier with a win than what’s in the scorebook.”
Woodmere: The Tigers have not played since Feb. 25, the night they defeated Collegiate 51-44 for the AISAA B Division title. That’s a long gap of time off, and it was compounded this week by the school being closed by a mid-week snowstorm, costing them more practice time.
“We scrimmaged Albany Academy last Monday and we usually practice three times a week,” coach Jeff Weiss said. “Usually I have a feel for it, but I haven’t seen the kids in a couple of days. Hopefully the long layoff and the 9 a.m. tipoff don’t hurt us.”
Woodmere, located near JFK airport and a few miles south of Belmont Park, is a team loaded with size and athleticism. The Tigers are led by 6-foot-10 junior Aidan Igiehon, a major Division I prospect who averages 16 points and 14 rebounds per game, and 6-4 junior guard Tyler St. Furcy. St. Furcy, who is getting offers from St. Peter’s, Binghamton and the Ivy League, is a do-it-all player who scored 25 points in the win over Collegiate.
“We play uptempo, a lot of man, we press a lot. We’re a pretty long and athletic team,” said Weiss, whose Tigers won Federation titles in 1999 and 2002.
Mekeel Christian: The Lions rely on defense to win games, and it paid off handsomely in their first state championship Saturday, as they held off Seton Catholic of Binghamton in a 42-37 victory. That was after surviving a double-overtime game against Briarcliff in the semis.
“At this level, it’s the teams that can play defense that are left,” Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said. “Our kids have character and poise. They have faced challenges in every game, and they’ve been able to dig down and find ways to win.”
The senior trio of guards Deonte Holder and Jordan Jackson and forward Carter Stewart have combined to average more than 51 points per game this season. Gideon Agbo, a 6-4 junior, dominates the paint.
Regis: The Raiders stunned defending Federation champion LaSalle Academy 44-42 in the New York City CHSAA championship on March 2, then capped off their CHSAA overall title with a 64-59 overtime win over Niagara Catholic on March 11.
Regis, which played in the Federation Tournament in 2014 and 2015 in Albany, last won a title in 2005.
“I knew we had potential, but we were banged up during the year,” said coach Kevin Cullen, ticking off three or four key players who missed games to injuries. “I knew when we got healthy, we were going to be pretty good.”
While the Raiders don’t have a ton of height, they are extremely balanced, have excellent shooters and a very deep bench.
“We’re extremely intense on offense and defense, and with nine seniors on the team, we have a lot of leadership and experience,” Cullen said.