After winning its first Section II championship in 47 years, Whitehall took a few days to enjoy it.
Then practice started again on Monday and the Railroaders began preparing for the prize that came with winning its section.
A regional final against 23-0 Moriah, a team that is enjoying a 43-game winning streak and sits atop the state’s Class D rankings. The teams meet Saturday at Plattsburgh State (7:45 p.m.) with the winner getting a trip to the state final four.
“They are big and not only are they big but they shoot the ball well,” Whitehall coach Keith Redmond said. “One thing we focused on was getting back on defense because they will push the ball quickly.”
Moriah fits every description of the word powerhouse.
The Vikings outscored opponents by 27.6 points per game this season, are the defending state champions and cruised through the Section VII, Class D tournament. They defeated Crown Point 80-54 to win the sectional title.
Though Redmond said Moriah has talent everywhere, the Vikings are led by Dylan Trombley and Joey Stahl.
Trombley averages 21.7 points per game this season and Stahl is averaging 17.2.
Stahl is also a lights-out shooter, making 85 triples this season.
For Whitehall to keep its dream season alive, the Railroaders will lean on what got them this far. Evan St. Claire was the Class D tournament MVP in Section II. Through three playoff games, St. Claire averaged close to 30 points per game for the 20-4 Railroaders.
“We are going to have to make sure we run our sets to perfection,” Redmond said. “That means setting good screens and making good cuts and scoring the way that we do.”
Since Whitehall received a bye in the regional semifinal round, Redmond said it has been strange not playing a game all week.
To make up for that, Redmond and his staff increased the tempo of practices later in the week and had his players compete hard against each other.
“What we did is split our kids up,” Redmond said. “We have 13 kids so we split the starters up and made two really aggressive teams and they go at one another just like it is a simulated game.”
Whitehall will have to play one of its best games of the year to upset Moriah. But after winning the sectional final, St. Claire said no one thought they could do that.
So the Railroaders are used to playing the underdog role.
“Coming off the win, it was emotional at the start of the week,” Redmond said. “We had a good practice the past two days so hopefully we come out, stick to our game plan and do what we need to do.”