ALBANY - It was a telling snapshot of the season's final game. In a corridor under the stands, the high scorers from each team crossed paths and paused for a brief but heartfelt hug. Joe Cremo of Scotia-Glenville was beaming. Peter Alkins of Holy Trinity had tears in his eyes.
Tournament MVP Cremo scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Tartans completed a perfect season by pulling away from the Titans in the fourth quarter for a 68-53 victory Saturday in the state Federation Class A boys championship game.
"They got some big offensive rebounds," said Alkins, who scored 13 points, "and a couple of second-chance shots. We couldn't do anything about it."
Jimmy Golaszewski added 11 points and nine rebounds for Holy Trinity (24-7), which could not overcome a decided height advantage. The front line for Scotia (27-0) featured three athletic 6-4 players, all of whom registered double digits in rebounds. In addition to Cremo, Dom Lemorta scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and Mike Palleschi had 11 boards and added seven points.
The teams were mirror images of each other in terms of style. Both teams moved the ball beautifully, repeatedly making the extra pass, and both teams took their fair share of three-point shots. (Holy Trinity made 8 of 22; Scotia was 6 of 15).
The game may have turned on a sequence of consecutive possessions. Holy Trinity had cut an 11-point third-quarter deficit to 49-44 on a steal and tricky reverse by Jack Sixsmith followed by Golaszewski's tough drive through traffic with 33 seconds left in the third quarter. The Tartans worked the clock with some smart passing and point guard Scott Stopera beat the buzzer with a dagger three from the corner.
Then on the first possession of the fourth quarter, Cremo scored on a neat spin move in the lane, drew the foul and converted what the PA announcer at the Times Union Center called, with emphasis, "an old-fashioned three-point play!" That made it 55-44 and the Titans never recovered.
"The three was a big bucket," Holy Trinity coach Joe Conefry said of Stopera's arcing shot from right in front of the Scotia bench. "We were trying to keep it right there and then it got away from us in the beginning of the fourth quarter."
Holy Trinity, which made six threes in the first half, managed only one in the second half until Billy Sixsmith's long-range heave beat the final buzzer.
"We got beat tonight. That's a great team," Conefry said. "They're undefeated for a reason. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and Cremo made some great plays down low."
The Titans played the state's No. 1-ranked Class A team tight for three quarters, something few teams have done. But despite that feat, plus winning the school's first state CHSAA title since 1980 to earn the trip upstate, they weren't satisfied.
"These guys are in there sobbing," Conefry said, pointing to the locker room. "They weren't just glad to be here. They came here to win a championship. I'm so proud that they cared so much."