Defending champ OESJ falls short against North Warren

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville’s Travis LaFountain, right, drives to the basket as North Warren’s Tanner Dunkley (50) defends during Saturday’s Section II Class D quarterfinal game at Stillwater High School. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)

STILLWATER — The Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville boys basketball team looked to continue its Section II Class D title defense Saturday against North Warren.

The eighth-seeded Wolfpack saw their season come to an end with an 80-59 loss to top-seeded North Warren in the Section II Class D quarterfinals at Stillwater High School.

Anthony Girard finished with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists to lead North Warren, while Tanner Dunkley finished with 15 points and 22 rebounds. Nate Hooper scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Cougars, and Ryan Miller added 11 points. Girard also passed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the third quarter.

North Warren connected on 11 3-pointers in the game, while OESJ had just three as the Cougars finished with a 24-point advantage in that area.

“Hat’s off to North Warren. They’re a good team,” Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville coach Jarrod Walrath said. “They just had some extra weapons and hit some shots that we couldn’t overcome.”

Travis LaFountain scored 22 points to lead Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville, while Paetyn Logan-Dillenbeck had 13 points. Quincy Bonneau added 11 points for the Wolfpack, which posted a 65-61 victory over ninth-seeded Whitehall in the first round on Wednesday.

OESJ got off to a quick start, taking an 8-5 lead in the first three minutes of the game.

North Warren closed the quarter with a 13-4 surge to grab an 18-12 advantage after eight minutes of play.

“I thought we got off to a pretty good start,” coach Walrath said. “We just couldn’t finish around the rim in the first half. If we had done a better job, I think we would have been ahead at the half.”

OESJ closed to within 22-19 after starting the second quarter with a 7-4 burst that was capped with a three-point play from LaFountain.

The rest of the first half belonged to the Cougars, who closed out the half with a 15-4 run over the final 4:41 to take a 37-23 lead at the break. Girard finished the first half by banking home a 3-pointer from the right side at the buzzer.

North Warren built on that momentum in the third quarter, connecting on six 3-pointers as part of a 25-point quarter to take a 62-42 lead into the fourth quarter.

Girard scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw with 4:09 left in the third quarter. He had 11 points in the quarter before suffering an injury after getting intentionally fouled by OESJ’s Chris Mayton with 1:10 left in the third quarter. Girard did not return to the game.

With their top outside shooter sidelined, the Cougars turned to Dunkley in the fourth quarter. The junior center dominated down low, scoring eight points in the frame and grabbing several rebounds to help North Warren season the 80-59 victory.

“We didn’t do a good job of boxing out,” coach Walrath said. “They beat us up on the boards for most of the game.”‘

North Warren (19-2 overall) advances to face fifth-seeded Germantown in the semifinals Wednesday at the Cool Insuring Areana in Glens Falls. The Clippers posted a 70-60 victory over fourth-seeded Hartford in their quarterfinal contest Saturday.

OESJ, which returned just three players from last year’s roster, finished its season with a 6-16 overall record.

“We’ve got a young team,” coach Walrath said. “We’ll grind it out in the offseason and get better. I think this group has a bright future.”

North Warren 80, Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville 59

OESJ 12 11 19 17 — 59

North Warren 18 19 25 18 — 80

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville

Bonneau 4-2-11, Logan-Dillenbeck 6-1-13, Feagles 2-0-4, LaFountain 8-4-22, Montes 0-2-2, Snell 2-3-7. Totals 22-12-59.

North Warren

Tanner Dunkley 6-3-15, Gereau 1-0-2, Girard 9-4-27, Hopper 4-2-14, Jennings 2-0-4, Miller 4-1-11, Steen 2-3-7. Totals 28-13-80.

3-point goals: Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville 3 (LaFountain 2, Bonneau); North Warren 11 (Girard 5, Hopper, Miller 2).

By Paul Wager

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