Randolph downs Moravia, advances to state Class C title game
GLENS FALLS — Head coach Kevin Hind and the Randolph Cardinals boys basketball team had to wait 19 years between games at Cool Insuring Arena at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
Hind and the Cardinals were set on not waiting that long again and it worked because they’ll be back today.
Randolph battled through adversity Friday in its Class C state semifinal against Section IV’s Moravia and prevailed 50-43.
“I just have no words,” Hind said about advancing to the state final. “Then, with one of our best players going down early, we’re rolling and things are really looking good. We play six guys, a kid (Cooper Freeman) from the jayvee team hadn’t played a varsity minute came in and played 13 minutes, took care of the ball and didn’t turn it over. Roan Kelly came in defensively and didn’t miss a beat, but offensively we were limited.”
While the Cardinals have the best trio of shooters Hind has had at one time, they are a team that puts a big focus on defense. So when the heart of the Randolph defense, Griffin Nelson, went down with an injury with 2:15 left in the first quarter, the Cardinals were going to need not only the big three to step up, but the bench, too.
“It’s not good,” Hind said about Nelson’s injury. “He’s the heart and soul of our defense and really of our team. Losing him was huge and being able to still pull it off; there was a time in the game when I really thought we should have put it away and just that out of synch, out of rhythm, out of sorts. … we just had to improvise.”
With Nelson on the floor, Randolph was in command of the game and took a 17-13 lead after the first quarter. However, with subs entering the game earlier than usual, the rhythm was thrown off offensively, which led to a quiet second quarter for the Cardinals who managed to only take a 23-20 lead into halftime.
Feeling Moravia on its heels, Randolph needed its big three to step up in the second half and it got exactly what it needed in the third quarter.
After a quiet Far West Regional by his standards, Drew Hind played one of his best games of the year against Moravia.
The sophomore guard attacked the basket all game for the Cardinals — scoring 8 of his 20 points in the third quarter — and finished off three three-point-plays.
“Basically, in the second half, I gave the ball to Drew and got out of the way,” Coach Hind said about the offense. “He went downhill, finally. Not so much in the first half, but downhill in the second half, he attacked the basket, finished, got people shots and took care of the ball for the most part (and then) Carson Conley hitting huge shot after huge shot all through the tournament.”
From beyond the arc, Conley was deadly again for Randolph, hitting four treys in key situations that lifted the Cardinals’ offense. Conley finished with a team-high 20 points to tie Hind.
Friday’s game was Hind and Conley rising to the occasion on offense while Jaiden Huntington didn’t have his best performance. Despite his numbers not being at their usual spot in the scorebook, Huntington picked his place in the fourth quarter to make his two shots that helped put the game out of reach for Moravia.
“The three of them are just really good,” Hind stated. “Jaiden said, ‘Don’t worry, Coach, I got you tomorrow,’ and we’re going to need him. That’s the first thing he said to me when he came off the court. Let’s not forget, he did have the big bucket there at the end to push it to five.”
While the Randolph defense stymied top-ranked Moravia, what made the Blue Devils’ comeback effort even more difficult was losing their top-scorer, Abram Wasileski, in the third quarter to injury. Wasileski finished with 12 points and forced point guard Kyler Proper to look for different options.
Even without its top scorer, Moravia managed to get the game down to one possession in the fourth quarter. With 4:11 remaining, Owen Nelson fouled out, making the Cardinals go deeper into the bench to grind out the win.
Moravia managed to cut the lead to 46-43 with 2:47 left, but that was the last time it would score a basket and Randolph made free throws down the stretch.
“We’ve got several defenses that we can throw out,” Conley said. “Watching film we know right away what we’re going to play. Today, it was 2-3 and that was more of a last-minute decision, because we wanted to come in and play diamond. Throughout the game we just figure out what works. We ended up settling into the 2-3 and that ended up working well for us.”
The Cardinals are now one game away from their goal of a state championship and will have to go through another group of Blue Devils, this time against Section I’s Haldane at 5:15 p.m. today back at Cool Insuring Arena.
Haldane will not be the only thing on the Cardinals’ minds as they will also be thinking about their female counterparts playing in the NYSPHSAA Class C semifinals this afternoon against Section IV’s Union Springs in Troy.
“The community … we’re just totally blessed right now,” Conley said about the girls playing in the state semis today. “This whole deal we have going on is amazing. We’re going to go to bed tonight knowing we’re going to the state championship, wake up and go watch the girls in their semifinal game. We’re just totally blessed and grateful for this opportunity.”
“Not many schools would spend money to get their cheerleaders out here and that’s just huge for us,” Drew Hind added. “Having them here just gives us that energy and then seeing our girls go to the state championships, too. It’s all great, our community is just amazing.”
Wasileski 5 2 12, Kelly 2 1 5, Proper 4 1 10, Bell 1 0 2, Baylor 4 0 8, Nye 2 0 6, Adams 0 0 0. Totals 18 4 43.
ONelson 0 0 0, Hind 8 3 20, GNelson 1 0 2, Conley 8 0 20, Huntington 2 0 4, Kelly 1 2 4, Farnham 0 0 0, Freeman 0 0 0. Totals 20 5 50.
3-point goals-Proper, Nye 2, Hind, Conley 4.
Moravia 16 5 13 10 — 43
Randolph 20 3 18 9 — 50