By Dean Russin
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — Reserve forward Brandon Shelly wheeled the ball from the top of the key to the left side, where junior varsity call-up Cameron Hill calmly swished a three-point field goal at the buzzer.
It was just that kind of night for the Morris boys basketball team, which had everything go its way in a 77-39 Section Four Class D semifinal rout of Hunter-Tannersville on Wednesday at Oneonta State.
“We were really hot tonight,” said senior guard Mike DeLuca, who scored the first points on a transition layup 45 seconds into the semifinal. Top-seeded Morris (18-1) scored the next 10 points, too, en route to a 24-8 lead after one quarter. “We like to push it. We’ve had back-to-back 77-point games now. That’s how we want to play.”
Fourth-seeded Hunter-Tannersville of the Delaware League missed its first five shots before Elijah Ruoff scored from the left block with 4:15 left in the first quarter. That made the score 12-2, which Morris extended to 16-2 with consecutive baskets by Skylar Maricle and Kerry Smith less than a minute later.
Therein lied the problem for the Wildcats (15-5), who may have been expecting big games from top Morris scorers DeLuca and Levi Decker but probably weren’t looking to shut down players such as Maricle, Smith and Cody Meyers.
“Andrew Staib was having a good game, too,” Morris coach Dave Sander said. “He scored six points in a couple of minutes and then hurt his back. But we were still finding open guys. I think they did a lot of focusing on MIke and Levi.”
If that was the case, it didn’t matter all that much.
DeLuca finished with 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Mustangs, who received 13 points, eight rebounds and three three-pointers from Decker. Morris also received a game-best 16 points from Maricle — who scored half of his total in the first quarter — along with eight points and five steals from Smith.
“I’m going to blame it on we didn’t have school today or something,” H-T coach Chris Glennon quipped. “They ran the floor and they shot the lights out. It just seemed like we were not here in the first half. It did not look like my team.”
Said Sander, whose boys are the state’s fifth-ranked Class D program: “We have really good ballhandlers and we handled their press well. I didn’t want to beat the press, I wanted to score against their press.”
Much like the first quarter, Morris jumped all over the Wildcats early and often in the second period. Staib’s pump fake-and-score 30 seconds into the second quarter sparked an 11-0 run capped by Meyers, who converted a transition basket off a pass from Decker with 4:46 left before halftime. That spurt more or less sealed it for the Mustangs, who rode the 35-8 cushion to a 44-15 lead at the break.
About the only thing that didn’t fall for Morris in the second quarter was DeLuca’s half-court, over-the-head heave with his back to the basket — and even that landed in the general vicinity as it smacked the shot clock above the backboard.
“We shot well,” Sander said. “This is the best we’ve ever shot up here.”
Although H-T didn’t score well and turned the ball over 20 times, Glennon seemed more displeased with his defense.
“We play better defense (than that),” said Glennon, who got a team-high 10 points from Zach Mudge. “We’re a defensive ballclub and it just wasn’t there tonight. I don’t know what it was. We just didn’t show up tonight.”
Morris certainly will show up at O-State on Saturday, when the reigning Tri-Valley League champions will face 10th-seeded Marathon (9-11) of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference in the Section Four Class D championship game.
“I think they’re very sound fundamentally and they play good defense,” Sander said of the Olympians, who beat No. 14 seed Edmeston, 60-46, in Wednesday’s other Class D sectional semi at O-State. “They’re going to be tough - really tough.”
O-State will host a Section Four Class D championship doubleheader Saturday, with Morris programs starring in both. The seventh-seeded Mustangs girls will play top-seeded Franklin in an all-Tri-Valley-League final at 4 p.m., followed by the Morris boys and Marathon at 6 p.m.
Morris 77, H-T 39
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Oneonta State
4-HUNTER-TANNERSVILLE (15-5): Zach Mudge 3 2-2 10, Jordan Cairo 0 0-0 0, Jake Davis 2 0-0 5, Jordan Radcliffe 1 0-1 2, Joey Radcliffe 0 1-2 1, Devin Wolny 0 1-2 1, Mike Tancredi 1 0-2 2, Connor Graham 0 0-0 0, Elijah Ruoff 4 1-3 9, Dylan Legg 3 0-0 7, Neal Statts 1 0-2 2. TOTALS: 15 5-14 39.
1-MORRIS (18-1): Kerry Smith 3 2-2 8, Levin Decker 4 2-4 13, TJ Doyle 0 0-0 0, Mike DeLuca 6 3-3 15, Andrew Staib 3 0-0 6, Andrew Dougherty 1 0-0 2, Cody Meyers 4 3-4 12, Skylar Maricle 6 4-4 16, Chris Showers 0 0-0 0, Brandon Shelly 1 0-0 2, Mike Silicato 0 0-0 0, Dillon Humphris 0 0-0 0, Cameron Hill 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 29 14-17 77.
Hunter-Tannersville 8 7 18 6 — 39
Morris 24 20 17 16 — 77
Three-point field goals: H 4 (Mudge 2, Davis, Legg); M 5 (Decker 3, Meyers, Hill). Rebounds: H 24 (Statts 6); M 29 (DeLuca 9). Turnovers: H 20; M 12.
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.