Elmont celebrates after defeating West Genesee in the state Class...

Elmont celebrates after defeating West Genesee in the state Class AA boys basketball championship in Glens Falls, New York, on Saturday. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

GLENS FALLS — Elmont delivered the perfect ending to this 2023-24 journey, repeating the same formula that had worked throughout the postseason — defending and defeating.

And with a lot of Cassius Moore scoring mixed in.

The Spartans won their final 12 games, seven of them in the postseason, capped by the state Class AA boys basketball championship game.

They defeated Section III champion West Genesee, 51-44, on Saturday night at Cool Insuring Arena to claim the program’s second state title. The Spartans won their first one in 2016.

And they were reveling in the achievement. “It means everything,” Moore said, holding his MVP plaque for his work in the final four.

This had been a driven Elmont team since it fell to South Side in a Nassau Class A semifinal last season. The returnees started to work right away on their games.

And it showed. The Spartans finished at 23-4.

“This means a lot to me,” senior forward Osagie Ekhator said, holding his all-tournament team plaque after contributing four points, five rebounds and five assists in the final after posting a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds in Friday’s 52-38 semifinal victory over Jamestown.

“We just brought it back for our hometown, for Long Island, for everybody. All the hard work and dedication finally paid off.”

Moore powered the Spartans with 24 points and eight rebounds. He averaged 19.4 points in the seven playoff games.

“He’s been dynamite all year,” coach Ryan Straub said.

Then there was the defense that consistently ruled. The Spartans allowed an average of 43 points in the postseason.

The championship game was another great example. Elmont held the Wildcats (23-3) to 33.3% shooting, including 2-for-19 from beyond the arc.

“Defense has been our identity all year,” Straub said. “The kids stepped up and got stops when it mattered most.

“I’m just so proud of our guys, all the work that they put in throughout the last year and beyond. This makes it all worth it.”

Junior guard Arlyn Brown, who beat Half Hollow Hills East with his buzzer-beating jumper in the Long Island championship game/ Southeast Regional final, made a three-pointer to give the Spartans a 39-24 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

Gary McLane’s three-pointer cut it to 40-31 with 5:53 to go. Then the margin shrunk to seven on two occasions, the second time with 4:05 left. McLane then drove for two to cut it to five at 42-37 with 1:25 on the clock.

But senior guard Gemere Frias-Walsh made two free throws with 58 seconds left for a seven-point lead. Moore made two more, and it was 46-37 with 38 seconds left.

West Genesee’s Jordan Cain (18 points) nailed a three-pointer with five seconds left.

Soon Straub and the Spartans were racing off the bench to celebrate.

“It means a lot,” said Frias-Walsh, who had 10 points. “Two years ago, we were 5-14. People thought Elmont basketball was done. We showed that we’re not. We brought our second state championship back to the school.”

The Spartans led 23-17 at the break after outscoring West Genesee 12-4 in the second quarter.

Then Moore, coming off 3-for-13 shooting in the first half, really stepped forward. He hit a layup, then two free throws, then a straight-on three-pointer.

He was the “7” in a 7-2 burst to start the period. Elmont owned a 30-19 lead and Wildcats coach Fred Kent had to call for time.

It didn’t slow Moore.

He sank another straight-on three to make it a 36-21 game with 2:41 remaining in the period.

Moore scored 11 across those eight minutes. Elmont outscored West Genesee 16-7 in that stretch to create the 15-point cushion.

“My teammates trusted me,” Moore said. “They were calling plays for me. They knew I was missing shots in the first half, but they encouraged me to keep shooting.”

He kept shooting. He and his teammates kept defending. They defeated one final opponent.

And Elmont was the last AA team left standing in the state.


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