Eighth-seeded Gloversville one more upset win from Section II Class A boys’ basketball title


Gloversville teammates celebrate their win over Amsterdam during Section II Class A semifinals at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls on Thursday, March 3, 2022.

The way Gloversville has been playing since entering the Section II Class A boys’ basketball tournament, seeding hardly matters anymore.

The Dragons entered the postseason seeded eighth, and since a first-round win over No. 9 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, they’ve proceeded to knock off two higher seeds — No. 1 Troy and No. 4 Amsterdam — in back-to-back games.

One more win against a higher seed Saturday at 2 p.m. at Glens Falls’ Cool Insuring Arena — this time, it’s No. 3 Mekeel Christian Academy — and Gloversville will have its first Section II basketball title since 1989.

Confidence is high, Dragons coach Ed Collar said following his team’s semifinal win Thursday against Amsterdam at Cool Insuring Arena, but the team isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We know we can play with anybody,” Collar said. “But you’ve still got to come, and play and get the job done, work hard and hopefully things fall your way.”

Gloversville’s also got some upset experience from back in the fall, when three of the five starters for the basketball team — Leo Perez, Giorgio Glionna and Dominic Dorman — were key members of the school’s football team in its run to the Section II Class B Super Bowl, its first time reaching that point in 21 years.

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Collar is in his second year as Gloversville’s head coach. Collar previously coached the men’s basketball program at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, then took over at Gloversville when Aric Kucel left for the coaching position at Shaker following a run led by 2,000-point scorer Dante Bouchard and 1,500-point scorer Joey Rowback that included a trip to the area Class A championship game in 2019.

Collar’s first season at the helm was shortened to less than a month due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, and the Dragons started this year 4-8 before its run of 10 wins in 11 games that led the team back to the Class A final.

“A lot of this group, this is their first chance at it,” Collar said. “The kids have progressed immensely from the time I got here.”

Guard James Collar has taken most of the headlines in Gloversville’s underdog postseason run, scoring 79 points in the three tournament games, including 30 against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and 33 in the Dragons’ quarterfinal upset of Troy.

But, when the junior guard was held relatively in check on Thursday by Amsterdam — he finished with 16 points on 3 of 16 shooting — it was Gloversville’s supporting cast that stepped up. Anthony Gray scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half on four 3-pointers and sophomore Rocco Insonia provided a boost with a dozen points off the bench.

“With James scoring 30-some points the first couple games of sectionals, people have got to focus on him,” Ed Collar said. “That’s good for us, because it opens up things for everybody else.”

In Mekeel Christian (14-5), Gloversville faces the team that won the Section II Class A championship when the tournament was last held in 2020. The Lions used a huge second-quarter run on Thursday to pave the way for its 64-50 win over No. 2 seed and Foothills Council champion Hudson Falls.

“They’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot, and they’re very quick off the dribble,” Ed Collar said. “We’ve got to be ready for both.”

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The day of action at Cool Insuring Arena will kick off at 11 a.m. with a clash of Western Athletic Conference rivals as Northville and OESJ meet for the Class D championship.

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No. 4 seed OESJ (13-9), three years removed from its last Section II championship, is coming off an impressive rout of top-seeded Argyle in the semifinals on Wednesday. One night later, No. 2 Northville (15-7) overcame an ugly first half to pick up a 45-36 win over 2020 champion North Warren.

The two programs will meet for the area title exactly one month after their regular-season matchup, where Northville came away with a 61-51 win on Feb. 5 in St. Johnsville.

“It was a back-and-forth game,” said Northville coach John Karbowski, whose program is seeking its first Section II title in 14 years. “So, we expect that again on Saturday.”
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