CANTON — Halfway through Saturday’s Class C boys basketball regional final, Lake George held an 11-point lead against a rugged, opportunistic St. Lawrence Central team.
The Larries were stubbornly hanging with the undefeated Warriors, turning steals into layups and pull-up 3s.
Then Chris Becker took over the game.
Lake George’s 6-foot-7 junior center scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter as the Warriors pulled away to a 62-42 victory.
“I just wanted to step up my game, give us a big lead and finish off the game,” said Becker, who also grabbed nine rebounds.
The win put Lake George into the State Boys Basketball Tournament final four for the fourth time in six seasons. The Warriors (26-0), state runners-up last year, face Greenport in the state semifinals on Friday at 3 p.m. in Binghamton.
“It feels amazing, we’ve been wanting this since the beginning of the season — it’s all we’ve been thinking about,” said junior forward Mason Flatley, who scored 13 points and collected 11 rebounds. “We do have unfinished business, but nothing comes for free, we have to work for it.”
“We’re excited — it’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Lake George coach Dave Jones said. “They had a chance to experience it last year and we’re excited we get to take another shot at it.”
For Lake George, Saturday’s game was a nice rebound from Thursday’s regional semifinal, a 46-44 squeaker over Ticonderoga in which the Warriors did not play their best game.
“I thought we did a better job offensively today, getting out in transition and getting easier looks at the basket than we did Thursday night,” Jones said.
They also found success getting the ball inside to Becker, who had a game-long battle with St. Lawrence’s 6-3, 275-pound Cash Feeley in the post.
“I don’t really see that size much, it’s definitely a lot harder,” Becker said. “I had to make sure I got under him — he pushed me to the back, he’s a big boy, he’s hard to box out, but the lower shoulder always wins.”
“We thought he had an advantage down there and we thought he could’ve been more aggressive offensively (in the first half),” Jones said, “and after we talked to him at halftime, he stepped up his offensive game a bit.”
Becker made four layups and a pair of foul shots in a span of four minutes in the third quarter, a 10-2 run for the Warriors that put them up 40-21 — a lead Lake George maintained for the rest of the game.
Becker also attracted enough attention inside that when he kicked the ball back out, teammates like Flatley, Alex Jones and Caleb Scrime had open looks.
“When we give him the ball, teams usually dump down on him and that opens up the 3-point shot almost every single time,” Flatley said. “Even when they’re not falling, he can get it to the rack and make a layup. He was huge for us — he’s huge for us every game.”
The Warriors were familiar with St. Lawrence (12-11), the team they beat in the first game of the season, 54-41. The Larries played tough defense, but this time, they did not win the rebounding battle with Lake George, which finished with a 37-24 edge on the boards. Scrime added eight rebounds to his 10 points.
St. Lawrence got 12 points from Toby Reome and 10 from Matt Burg.
As for unfinished business at states, Dave Jones doesn’t think that’s the case for the Warriors.
“I go back to our one-game-at-a-time mentality, and if you’re trying to avenge a game from last season, then you’re not doing that,” he said. “I think this team has done a good job of staying in the moment and playing that game that’s in front of them and not looking ahead.”