CANAJOHARIE - Austin Riska scored 27 points Saturday, leading the Johnstown Sir Bills past the Canajoharie Cougars 52-40 to win the Andy Palmer Classic at Canajoharie High School.
Riska, along with Canajoharie's Dillan Veeder, were named tournament all-stars, while Johnstown's Jamal Vazquez was named tournament MVP. Vazquez scored 15 Saturday to go with 30 the night before for an average of 22.5 points over the two-day tourney.
While both teams got off to a slow start in the championship matchup, Johnstown (5-2 overall) was able to build a lead in the middle quarters with Canajoharie (5-3 overall) big man Josh Gonzalez on the bench. Gonzalez played sparingly in the second and sat out nearly the entire third quarter.
Johnstown’s Jamal Vazquez drives for two of his 15 points in the Andy Palmer Tournament title game against Canajoharie at Canajoharie High School Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
After the teams played to a 9-9 tie in the first quarter, Vazquez picked up right where he left off on Friday for Johnstown. Vazquez buried back-to-back three-pointers for the Sir Bills in the second frame and added a layup on a feed from point guard Ryan Auty. The Cougars led at 15-13 and 17-16, but Vazquez's second three-pointer of the quarter gave the Sir Bills a 19-17 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Riska was huge for Johnstown in all phases of the game in the second. The junior scored the first four points of the quarter for Johnstown before adding a big block of Gonzalez at the other end. Riska also tallied a steal near the end of the quarter that led to two made free-throws and an eight-point Johnstown lead.
The Cougars were stagnant on offense in the first half, especially without Gonzalez. After Gonzalez fouled Riska at the start of the third quarter, he sat down again and did not return until the fourth. Gonzalez, in limited action, finished with a team-high 10 points and added six rebounds.
Zach Ouderkirk stepped up in the post for Canajoharie in Gonzalez's absence. Ouderkirk scored five points in the third quarter and added two big blocks.
But the third quarter belonged to Riska. Riska finished three layups and knocked down five from the line for 11 of Johnstown's 13 points in the frame.
The Cougars continued to struggle offensively as open shots were few and far between. Johnstown's tight defense frustrated the Cougars well into the fourth quarter when Canajoharie head coach Phil Schoff decided to remove four of his five starters with his team down by nine.
Vazquez and Riska combined for 12 more points in the fourth quarter as the Sir Bills knocked down 7/8 from the line. Johnstown was efficient from the line all game, hitting on their foul shots at a 70 percent clip. The Sir Bills ended the game on a 7-2 run.
Riska and Vazquez led Johnstown in scoring, while Jon Heroth chipped in six.
Ouderkirk and Veeder each finished with nine points for Canajoharie. Veeder averaged 10 points for the tournament and converted a and-1 that lifted the Cougars past Little Falls in the first round.
Johnstown has won three of their last four games and will look to stay hot when they face Hudson Falls at home in their first game of 2014 Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Cougars will also be in action Friday. They will travel to Schuylerville to face the Black Horses at noon.
Little Falls 57, Schoharie 51
The Little Falls Mounties rallied past the Schoharie Indians to take home third place honors at the Andy Palmer Classic in Canajoharie.
The Mounties trailed 26-21 at halftime, but used a 20-10 fourth quarter to push past Schoharie. Theo Wind, who led Little Falls with 19 points, hit free throws down the stretch to sew up the victory.
James Sacket knocked down five threes for Schoharie while Connor Brown added 18 points. Brown was named a tournament all-star along with Little Falls' Brian Ewanyk.
Johnstown 52, Canajoharie 40
Johnstown 9 16 13 14 - 52
Canajoharie 9 10 11 10 - 40
Riska 7-12-27, Vazquez 6-0-15, Heroth 2-2-6, Auty 1-0-2, Caputo 1-0-2. Totals 17-14-52.
Gonzalez 5-0-10, Ouderkirk 4-1-9, Veeder 1-7-9, Sala 3-2-8, Anderson 1-0-2, Folts 1-0-2. Totals 15-10-40.
3-point-goals: Johnstown 4 (Vazquez 3, Riska); Canajoharie - none
Little Falls 57, Schoharie 51
Little Falls 9 12 16 20 - 57
Schoharie17 9 15 10 - 51
Wind 8-1-19, Baumeister 5-1-13, Ewanyk 5-0-10, Hubbell 1-1-3, Robinson 2-0-5, Yallowitz 1-0-3, Green 1-0-2, Ward 1-0-2. Totals 24-3-57.
Sacket 6-2-19, Brown 9-0-18, Smida 3-0-7, O'Neill 1-3-5, Hotaling 1-0-2. Totals 20-5-51.
3-point-goals: Little Falls 6 (Baumeister 2, Wind 2, Robinson, Yallowitz); Schoharie 6 (Sacket 5, Smida)