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We KNOW Avoca-Prattsburgh basketball, but who are the other three teams in the NYS Final Four? Bill Collmer talks to the coaches

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From high-fiving mascots and cheerleaders to fat heads and Coach Burke, a lot going on in this Rhonda Sick photo during the final minutes of A-P’s Far West Regional victory over Westfield.

GLENS FALLS — Around the communities of Avoca and Prattsburgh, the talk is about the different players and playing styles of the other four teams in the New York State Boys Basketball Final Four.

Meanwhile, everyone else in the Southern Tier is wondering what will it take for A-P to bring home the Class D State Championship.

To get those questions answered, we jumped on the phone Saturday before Avoca-Prattsburgh returned home from winning the Far West Regionals at Buffalo State College and called Bill Collmer.

We gave him Sunday off, but in three days, we wanted to know everything about the A-P opponent and potential opponents. Bill, who founded Section V Talksback and won a state award for best sports section in the state as a contributing writing to the Great 8 coverage, was on the job.

Forget Google, he called the schools and coaches himself. We will be in Glens Falls all weekend along with many of you.

Collmer talked exclusively to Coach Jarrod Walrath whose team of two schools combined for sports only (in 2012) on their 2019 state championship and their brutal regular season schedule.

Outside of A-P, a lot of basketball experts are picking Heuvelton to win the Class D title. Collmer talked to Heuvelton coach Josh McAllister, who said their fan base will bring a sea of purple to the civic center!

— John Anderson, Hornell Sun

To prepare us for the weekend, we present you with Bill Collmer’s labor of love:

New York State Final Four Class D Previews

 By Bill Collmer 

GLENS FALLS — There are only four Class D Boys Basketball teams still playing in New York State, they will square off Friday morning at the Cool Insuring Arena is a 4,794 seat multi-purpose arena located in downtown Glens Falls, New York, The long-time home of the New York State High School Basketball Championships before briefly being moved to Binghamton. 

Friday March 18, 2022 

South Kortright/Andes vs. Heuvelton 9:30 A.M. 

Avoca-Prattsburgh vs. Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville 11:15 A.M 

Let’s take a look at who will be participating in the Final Four. 

Avoca-Prattsburgh after the Far West Regional victory at Buffalo State College.

Avoca-Prattsburgh

Record: 25-0 

NYS Ranking: No. 1 

Winning Streak: 36 Games dating back to last years undefeated 11-0 Season. 

Averaging: 85.8 PPG, Allowing: 48.8 PPG 

Coach: Brian Putnam 9th Year 158-39, Five Sectional Championships. 

Players to Watch:     Senior Guard Pacey Hopkins 16.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 4.4 SPG 

                                  Junior Forward Sawyer Devoe 16.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 3.0 SPG

                                 Sophomore Guard Macoy Putnam 15.5 PPG, 7.5 APG, 4.8 SPG, 4.4 RPG

                                 Junior Guard Haden Abbott 11.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.1 SPG 

                                 Senior Forward Caleb Johnson 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.6 SPG

News & Notes:  Senior Guard Pacey Hopkins is now 59-1 in his Varsity Basketball career and has won 59 straight games. He has won three straight Sectional Championship. Junior Sawyer Devoe and Sophomore Macoy Putnam have both won three Straight Sectional Championships as well. 

Tournament History: In only their second year since joining forces Avoca-Prattsburgh already has two Sectional Championships, the longest active winning streak in New York State and a Far Western Regional Championship. Individually both Schools have had success in the State Tournament. Avoca advanced to the State Tournament in 1988, they were defeated in the Semifinals by Sugar Loaf 81-52 and finished the season 23-2.  They returned the next year in 1989 defeating Edwards-Knox 66-63 in the Semifinals and avenged the previous years loss defeating Sugar Loaf in the Championship game 66-61. Finishing the year 28-0. In 1990 they advanced to the semifinals defeating Newfield 90-73 but lost in the Championship game 57-54 to Alexander Hamilton. Finishing the year 26-3. Prattsburgh Coach Jim Burke and Assistant Coach Jeff Gifford brought the Prattsburgh team to Glens Falls that season so the players could take in the atmosphere and cheer on their Steuben County Rivals Avoca. 

The A-P team receives a send off from students in the Prattsburgh building Thursday.

In 1991 Prattsburgh advanced to the State Semifinals and defeated Bridgehampton 73-68 they then defeated Argyle 80-72 in the Championship game. The finished the season 29-0. Current Avoca-Prattsburgh Coach Brian Putnam and Assistant Coach Zac Devoe were both selected to the All-Tournament team. 

In 1994 Prattsburgh advanced to the State Semifinals but fell to Tuckahoe 72-54. They finished the season 26-1. 

Throughout the season many similarities between this year’s team and Prattsburgh’s 1991 have been mentioned. Including the players, margins of victories, point per game and opponents. How will Coach Putnams and Coach Devoe’s experience as players in Glens Falls help them as coaches. 

From the coach:

“The only thing that our experience will really help with is just giving the kids a heads up on what to expect.  That’s if either of us can remember.  That was a lot of years ago.  Very special.  Glens Falls is the ultimate goal for a high school basketball program.  To be able to share this experience with this group of young men is super special.  Real bonus to be able to share it with my son as well.  Glens Falls is something these young men will remember for a long time.  Biggest similarity I believe is the teams unselfishness.  That along with their quickness and ability to defend.  The ability to share an experience like this with your son is amazing.  Being undefeated can be attributed to the hard work of the 11 guys on this team.  They love to play basketball, they love to win, and they have goals.  When you have a lot of weapons, it makes you much harder to defend.  Teams are not able to focus on just one or two players.  Playing in Glens Falls is a goal for everyone.  To be able to go and play for a state title is very exciting,”

Avoca-Prattsburgh Coach Brian Putnam

The O-E/St. Johnsville Wolves after their regional victory for a berth in the Final Four.’

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St Johnsville Wolves

Record: 15-9

NYS Ranking: No. 10

Winning Streak: Won five straight 

Averaging: 57.0 PPG, Allowing 56.0 PPG 

Coach:  Jarrod Walrath 3rd Year 20-33

Players to Watch:    Senior Mason Snell 15.7 PPG 

                                  Senior Owen Feagles 12.8 PPG 

                                  Senior Paetyn Logan-Dillenbeck 11.8 PPG 

                                  Junior Colten Christensen 11.1 PPG 

News & Notes: Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville merged athletic programs in 2012. 

Tournament History: In 1987 St. Johnsville advanced to the State Semifinals losing to Alexander-Hamilton 85-76 and finished the season 22-3. They returned in 2001 again losing in the Semifinals this time to Hamilton 64-35 they finished the season 15-11. In 2019 Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville made their first appearance in the Semifinals since joining forces. The defeated Panama in the Semifinals 61-57 in Overtime. Then fell in the State Championship game to Harrisville 67-54. They finished the season with a record of 21-4. 

From the coach:

“Being a small D school has helped us tremendously given our league is composed of Two B’s, Two D’s and Eight C schools. We also played a pretty competitive non-league schedule this season as well. We played Three games against Fort Plain who finished the regular season at 16-4 and was WAC Champions in the Mohawk Division. They were the Section 2 Class C Finalist this year losing to Maple Hill in the Class C Championship game. We won against them in December in the Championship of our Christmas Tournament. We also played Two games against Dolgeville from Section 3. They finished the regular season at 16-4 and were the Section 3 Class C Finalist this year losing to West Canada Valley in the Class C Championship game. In total we played 20 regular season games and we only played a total of Three games versus teams within our own class. Every other game was against B and C schools.

We have no players on our roster from the 2019 team that went to the State Championship game. The Seniors on my team this year were all Freshman on JV during that season. I was not on the coaching staff during that time. I became Varsity head coach the following season. It was my first coaching job at the Varsity level. Previously I had never coached any basketball other than youth league basketball (5th and 6th graders). I actually coached my Juniors and Seniors this season when they were young in youth league. When I took over the program, I had to bring up four sophomores to play varsity. The 2019 team that went to States graduated Seven Seniors and I had only three returning players in 2020. I needed to fill out the roster with Sophomores to even have a team. That season I started Three Sophomores with the Fourth Sophomore being our 6th man. We took our lumps that year going 5-15 in the regular season but scoring a victory in the first round of sectionals before being beaten by eventual Section 2 Class D Champion North Warren. In 2021 we played an abbreviated season due to COVID-19 restrictions that only allowed us to play teams within our own county. We played a nine-game schedule which pitted us against much larger schools. We played two games against Class A Amsterdam, one game against Class A Gloversville, two games against Class B Fonda-Fultonville, two games against Class C Canajoharie and 2 games against Class C Fort Plain. Unfortunately, we did not win a game last season going 0-9.

I am very proud of my team for what they have endured over the past few seasons and what they have accomplished this season. They have held together and believed in one another through all of the ups and downs of a very long season which started way back in November. Most of the players on the basketball team also played on the soccer team this past fall which won the Class D Section 2 Championship and were Co-Regional Champions as well. We lost in a shootout after a playing to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtimes. The team that defeated us was Mount Academy out of Section 9 and they eventually went on to win the Class D State Title. My boys are truly a remarkable group of young men.” — OESJ Coach Jarrod Walrath. 

The Heuvelton Bulldogs, a favorite to win the Class D State Title by many experts.

Heuvelton Bulldogs 

Record: 22-4 

NYS Ranking: No.3 

Winning Streak:  Four Straight 

Averaging: 67.3 PPG, Allowing: 46.1 PPG 

Coach: Josh Mcallister 16th year 215-119

Players to Watch:      Junior GuardNathan Mashaw 18.3 PPG 

                                    Senior Forward Trystan Lovely 12.1 PPG 

                                   Senior Forward Cole Rickett     8.3 PPG 

                                  Senior Forward Jed Crayford    7.2 ppg

From the coach:

“This season has been one of many firsts for our school in the boys Basketball program.  The program has been knocking on the door for a few years now to break through and make the state tournament.  COVID took away a great chance last year and I feel bad for those seniors.  This year’s team knew it had to take advantage of the opportunity.  It was a tough run through the playoffs, having to knock off both the Harrisville Pirates and Chateauguay Bulldogs, two stalwarts of recent State Tournaments.  Both were hard fought battles.

This is Heuvelton’s first Final four boys’ team in school history. The school has participated in two other regional games back in 2004 and much earlier in 1979.  The team has played a very challenging non-league schedule, hopefully it has been good preparation for what lies ahead.  This a fun group to coach, we are a tight knit bunch, and they have worked very hard to get where they are, so they deserve the chance to represent Heuvelton this weekend and vie for a State Title.  We look forward to seeing a sea of purple in the stands. — Heuvelton Coach Josh McAllister 

South Kortright/Andes after their regional victory to head to the Final Four

South Kortright/Andes Rams 

Record: 20-3 

NYS Rankings: No.2

Winning Streak: Six Straight 

Averaging:  73.2 PPG, Allowing: 41.9 PPG 

Coach: Aaron Kauffman 4th year 76-11 

Players to Watch:        Sophomore GuardConnor Quarino

                                      Junior Forward Troy Dianich

                                      Junior Forward Josh Anderson 

Tournament History: South Kortright won the Class D State Championship in Glens Falls in 2009 finishing the Season 26-0. They’ve lost in the regionals qualifier three times since. 2010, 2012, and 2016. 

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