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Glenn's improbable ride ends in state semifinals

Glenn's Zach Coppola passes the ball away from

Glenn's Zach Coppola passes the ball away from Scotia-Glenville's Scott Stopera in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys Class A semifinal basketball game on Saturday, March 15, 2014, in Glens Falls, N.Y. Credit: Tim Roske

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- The embrace senior Paul Wesnofske received from his parents, Paul and Lauren, as he left the court wasn't much of a comfort. "I hate to say this, but they were the better team today," the Glenn senior forward said after the Knights' season ended with a thud . . . or a dud if you listen to Wesnofske.

"It was more that we played bad. It's unacceptable," Wesnofske said after Scotia-Glenville, the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state, obliterated Glenn, 81-50, Saturday in a state semifinal played at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Glenn (17-8) was out of this one from the start. The Tartans (24-0), from the Albany area and with a large crowd cheering them on, exploded to a 20-2 lead and held a 29-11 advantage after the first quarter. That's 29 points in eight minutes, an impressive total compiled by brilliant passing in transition and domination of the defensive boards, allowing them to use their fast-break at will.

"They're a tremendous team in the transition game," Glenn coach Charly Rogener said. "Not with individuals, but as a team. They showed that the ball moves faster than the man and it got them a lot of layups."

In fact, 16 of the Tartans' first-quarter points were on barely contested layups. "We started slow and that hurt us," said senior Darryl Daniels, who scored 13 points. "We put ourselves in that hole."

Glenn tried to dig out in the second quarter behind Daniels and sophomore KeAndre Augustine (19 points), twice cutting the deficit to 12 points. But inside baskets by Mike Palleschi and Joe Cremo and a three-pointer by Scott Stopera made it 40-21. Augustine's buzzer-beating three just before halftime cut it to 44-28, but the Knights were blitzed 21-8 in the third quarter and never challenged. Scotia-Glenville was led by Cremo (27 points, eight rebounds). Mike Palleschi had a double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds) and Dom Lamorta scored 15 points.

"The mentality of our team got hurt in the first quarter," Rogener said. "Then they continued to play well in transition in the second half." The Tartans compiled 18 assists, seven by Stopera, out-rebounded Glenn 50-25 and placed all five starters in double figures.

Still, Glenn enjoyed the journey. "We joked about getting to states before the season," Wesnofske said. "We didn't think it was possible. Even the kids in school didn't think we had a chance."

That dream became a reality only after the odd circumstance of Glenn losing to Amityville, 74-73, in overtime in the Suffolk Class A final, but got a reprieve when Amityville had to forfeit its county crown after Section XI discovered the Warriors used an ineligible player from the JV who played only 14 seconds against Glenn.

"The second chance was great. It gave us a chance to put Glenn basketball on the map," Daniels said.

Added Wesnofske, "We were on the JV as freshman when the varsity went 0-16. Last year we didn't even make the playoffs. This hurts now, but we'll look back and say we did something crazy this year."

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