SARATOGA SPRINGS — It was not the prettiest of wins, but it was a win nonetheless as Lake George barely got past Ticonderoga (Section VII) in the Class C state regional semifinals on Thursday night, 46-44.
Lake George’s defense showed up, allowing Ticonderoga to score just 12 points in the first half. Despite all of this, they stayed with Lake George the entire night, never trailing by more than nine the whole way and eventually took the lead late in the third quarter.
Lake George grabbed a 33-30 lead with six minutes left, then a flurry of scoring made it 38-35 Warriors. The sequence included five points from Lake George’s Chris Becker, who had seven in the fourth quarter and 16 overall.
“Just getting in the position that I needed to get in to get the ball. Push them up, and just put my hands up and get the ball,” Becker, who stands at 6-7, said. He also had 19 rebounds, eight of them coming on the offensive boards.
In the final minutes of the game, Lake George went up by seven with a minute to play on a score from Caleb Scrime that looked to be the dagger. However, Ticonderoga would not back down. They hit two three-pointers in 28 seconds from Evan Graney and Colton Huestis that cut the deficit to one in the final seconds. They got the ball back down one with less than 20 seconds to play, but it was stolen by the Warriors. A free throw from Alex Jones made it a two-point game with eight seconds left, and a three at the buzzer went off the rim to preserve Lake George’s undefeated season.
One interesting note is that Lake George played the game with just five players, not utilizing their bench even once the entire night. Head coach Dave Jones said the defensive play of Nick Hoffis was a key reason behind that decision.
“It was one of those situations where I thought we couldn’t play without Nick’s defense, so that was one of the reasons we stuck with him for as long as we did. We really haven’t rotated the other guys all that much all season long, so it really isn’t unusual for us,” Jones said.
Additionally, Lake George believes that playing in a game, especially a close one, before they get to the high levels of the state tournament will help them in the long run.
“I hope that little bit of experience helps us to get it out of the way. To get into another regional game, we’re very excited for that and hopefully we’ll learn off of this experience,” Jones added.
Lake George’s next game will be the regional final on Saturday. In that game, they will face St. Lawrence out of Section X. That game will be played at SUNY Canton, and begin at 2:45 p.m.