GLENS FALLS — Bethlehem punched a ticket to the Section II, Class AA finals after defeating CBA in a thriller on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Glens Falls Civic Center by a final score of 50-48.
After taking their first loss of the season to CBA at their last home game of the season on Wednesday, Feb. 13, Bethlehem came into the game searching for redemption.
Stopping Jordan King was not easy and the standout senior led all scorers with 26 points. And CBA had a chance to send the game into overtime but senior Peter O’Toole’s shot from in the paint as the horn sounded bounced off the front of the rim.
Bethlehem will play for its second Section II title in three years against Saratoga on Saturday, March 2. Tip is slated for 6 p.m.
The Eagles executed strong defense in the first half, forcing CBA to take bad shots and turn the ball over. They capitalized on steels turning them into quick points on fast breaks.
Three point shots were raining down for both teams in the first quarter. Bethlehem made three, two from Michael Ortale and one from Patrick Ryan. CBA made two of their own, one each from King and Haden Foley. At the end of the first Bethlehem led 17 to 12.
The Brothers owned the second quarter, outscoring Bethlehem 16 to 6. CBA continued working the ball around and were able to get Bethlehem players in foul trouble and took a 28-23 lead into to the half.
“We went into the locker room down five at the half, the atmosphere in there felt like we were down 20,” said Bethlehem’s Eric Salo, “I think every guy, top to bottom, knew we weren’t going to come out and play like we did in the first half, that was unacceptable.”
The Eagles played a strong third quarter, capping it off with a buzzer beater layup by Eric Signor to tie the game at 38-38.
The teams traded buckets for the first minutes of the fourth quarter, until Salo sparked a 6-0 run with 3:27 left by converting two shots and Jake Laclair scored to put The Eagles up 49-43.
With less than one minute left in the game, Peter O’Toole connected from downtown to bring The Brothers within a point, 48-49.
CBA fouled Ortale with 7.7 seconds left to put him on the free throw line. He went 1-2 giving The Eagles a two point advantage.
King scored nearly half of CBA’s points with 26, while O’toole had 11. Signor had six, Hagan had three, and Tironi had two to round out scoring for CBA.
Ortale had 13 to lead Bethlehem and Laclair had 11.
“It feels fantastic,” said Bethlehem coach A.G. Irons. “It’s been a goal for us all season, even since the end of last season thinking this was the direction we wanted to go.”
In the other semi-final match, Saratoga beat Shenendehowa 60-53.
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