GLENS FALLS — Fannie Lou Hamer coach Marc Skelton bragged coming into Federation Tournament of Champions that his team was the “most versatile team in the city.”
It could play any style, and by insinuation, play with any team in the metropolitan area. So after Hamer dispatched AIS champ Lawrence Woodmere on Saturday, he wondered aloud, “What do you think now?”
Anyone who saw Hamer’s 42-39 victory would have to concede he has a pretty good case.
Woodmere has a tall and athletic starting lineup anchored by 6-10 junior Aidan Igieho — who is being recruited by everyone — and 6-6 forward Maliek Speckman.
“From the start to the finish we were outsized,” said Skelton. “But you can’t judge the size of our hearts.”
Or the tenaciousness of their defense and rebounding.
Skelton had no single answer for the 6-10 Igieho, choosing instead to surround the big man with a 2-3 zone that left him little room to maneuver. But when he did get the ball, you understood why everyone is recruiting him.
Using quick spins to the basket, Igiehon kept Woodmere in the game with 16 points. But the fact that he only got six rebounds is indicative of the versatility of Hamer’s front line. Frankie Williams corralled 10 rebounds, Charles Davis got eight and Anthony Rose grabbed six. Rose fought all day down low trying to keep the big man from touching the ball.
Skelton called this a “throwback game” because it came down to who could hit mid-range jumpers.
“You don’t see that much anymore,” Skelton said.
It was true. Hamer hit just 3 of 13 3-pointers while Woodmere hit 1 of 9.
But Hamer did hit those midrange jumpers. Davis hitting 7 of 11 to finish with a team-high 16 points. Williams finished with 11 points.
“It comes down to you have to make shots,” Skelton said.
This was a game that never strayed further than a five-point margin. Hamer was up six halfway through the fourth quarter when Woodmere made one final 5-0 run to cut the lead to one. But Davis’ bucket with seconds to play upped the lead to three and Igiehon’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front of the rim to give Hamer a berth in Sunday’s 2 p.m. championship game against Mekeel Christian (25-3).
“They played good defense and we didn’t make shots,” Woodmere coach Jeff Weiss said. “There was one sequence there where they got four offensive rebounds in a row. I think that was the turning point in the game.”
Despite all that height, Hamer actually outrebounded Woodmere 32-20.
Igiehon, Woodmere’s 6-10 center, showed he is a talent who is an aggressive rebounder with a soft shot. He hit 6 of 12 from the field while also blocking three shots. Tyler St. Furcy also had 10 points for Woodmere.
Hamer lost in the Federation semifinals last year.
“We made this a cause to not only get back to Glens Falls but to keep playing,” Skelton said.
They will do that Sunday afternoon.