GLENS FALLS — Picking up 26 offensive rebounds in 32 minutes will usually win you a game. For Mekeel Christian, that kind of performance on the glass came at exactly the right time as they knocked off Schalmont in the Class B championship game at the Cool Insuring Arena on Saturday, 69-59.
Mekeel showed who was going to run the game early on as they had grabbed a nine-point lead by the end of the first quarter to gain the momentum early.
The main focus for Mekeel all game long was crashing the boards. It became very evident at one point early on in the second quarter as Mekeel’s Dan McCarty picked up three offensive rebounds in one possession resulting in a Schalmont foul. Deonte Holder hit two free throws for Mekeel to extend their lead to double digits.
That was just a small part of Mekeel’s big day on the boards.
“That’s what we talked about. Going on the glass and fighting for it, but 26 offensive rebounds is just remarkable, and effort, it’s an effort thing,” Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said.
For the rest of the game, Mekeel held a lead of around 10 points, never really letting Schalmont get into the game or make any type of run. The offensive rebounds again came up big as they allowed Mekeel to get second-, third- and even fourth-chance points on multiple occasions. In total, Mekeel outrebounded Schalmont 50-32.
“It doesn’t come easy, and that’s what good teams do. They take away what you do well. That’s what we try to do to other teams,” Bowman said.
The most offensive rebounds came from 6-6 senior Carter Stewart who grabbed nine of them, and 10 rebounds in total to go along with his 20 points. He was one of four Lions to have at least eight rebounds total. Gideon Agbo led them all with 16 rebounds, while Holder had nine, and Jordan Jackson had eight. Jackson also had 26 points for the game and was named the tournament MVP.
The championship comes as Mekeel’s first as a Class B program, and first sectional title overall since 2007, when they won the Class C title under the name of Schenectady Christian. They came within five points of a title last season but fell to Glens Falls in this same game last season.
“We’re just so excited. The feeling that you have when you come up short is just terrible, so we just made sure we worked all year, and we made sure when we got back here we took care of business,” Jackson said.
Schalmont was led by Shane O’Dell who had 27 points. Brother Jesse O’Dell had 14 points and LJ Randle had 13.
Mekeel advances to the state tournament following this championship. They will take on the winner of the playoff between Section 7’s champion and Section 10’s champion in the regional final. The regional final will be on Saturday, March 10 at Hudson Valley Community College. Tip-off is set for 3:15 p.m.