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Massena boys fall to Bishop Ludden in state Class A hoops tourney opener

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CICERO - The Massena Central boys basketball team wound up being three-quarters as good as Section 3 champion Bishop Ludden in the opening round of the NYSPHSAA Class A playoffs on Wednesday at the Cicero-North Syracuse high school gym.

“We didn’t play scared. We played very well in the first half and we outscored them in the fourth but we came out of the lockerroom and just couldn’t score in the third quarter,” said coach Tom Miller after the Section 10 champion Raiders were outscored 20-7 to start the second half en route to dropping a 71-50 decision to the Gaelic Knights.

“I’m very proud of our kids. They competed really hard right to the end and the effort was definitely there tonight,” he added. “Nobody likes to lose their last game but Bishop Ludden has a very strong basketball tradition. They were a solid team but we played hard against them. They ratcheted up the pressure a little bit in the third quarter. We started turning the ball over and they were able to capitalize on our mistakes.”

Senior center Xavier Viskovich closed out his varsity career for Massena (16-6) by working the paint for a team-high 12 points. Classmate Rhoades Tarbell and junior Zevon Viskovich chipped in 11 points apiece followed by freshman Dante Viskovich, who fired through a pair of three-pointers in an eight-point effort. Sophomore Bailey LaBarge contributed a three-pointer. Senior Tyler Haas netted two points along with sophomore Nick McKeel, a post-season call-up from the junior varsity squad who scored the final two points of the game for the Raiders in the closing minute. Sophomore Xavier Goyco, who also joined the varsity team for the playoffs, rounded out the Massena scoresheet with a free throw.

The frontline duo of Ben Hackett (18 points) and Dan Kaigler (17 points) scored a combined 14 points from the charity stripe to anchor the Bishop Ludden (20-2) offense as the Gaelic Knights went 21-30 from the line as a team. Zach Walser chipped in another 14 points followed by Kevin Sierotnick, who struck for three three-pointers in a 13-point contribution.

The teams traded baskets to open the game and the Raiders took a 10-8 lead when Zevon Viskovich drained a three-pointer with 4:30 left in the first half. Two possessions later, Dante Viskovich netted mid-range jumper to put Massena back on top 12-10 with 3:40 remaining and the turned out to be the final lead of the game for the Raiders as Bishop Ludden scored seven of the final nine points of the first quarter to go ahead 19-14.

The Gaelic Knights went on to score the first six points of the second quarter before a three by Dante Viskovich ended the first Raider drought of the game. Bishop Ludden led by as many as 11 early in the second half but the Raiders cut the deficit to 33-27 after Zevon Viskovich converted on a pair of free throws in the closing minute but a buzzer-beating three-pointer by the Gaelic Knights pushed the halftime lead to 36-27 and they went on to score the first 15 points of the third quarter to take control of the game.

“We had four seniors and they’re going to be missed but we have a good nucleus coming back. We also had a JV squad that went 17-1 and shared the league championship. Some of the players from that team came up for the playoffs and were able to contribute,” said Miller.

“So,” he added, “the future looks bright from Massena basketball.”

CLASS D UPDATE

The quarter-final round opponents for the two Section 10 Class D champions were determined Wednesday night. The Madrid-Waddington boys will be going up against Section 7 champion Moriah, which downed Section 2 champion Argyle 50-40, and the Heuvelton girls will be taking on Section 2 champion Fort Edward, which halted Moriah 53-45.

The Section 10 Class D champions will be hosting a second-round double-header at SUNY Canton on Saturday starting with the girls game at noon followed by the boys game at 1:45 p.m.

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