Austin, Perry place in state wrestling
By Keith Harrington
Both local wrestlers competing in the State Wrestling Championships last weekend battled back from losses on opening day to put themselves in the “Parade of Champions” and on the podium at MVP Arena in Albany.
Whitehall’s Troy Austin came back from a loss in his first match to record a sixth-place finish in the 189-pound weight class for Division II. After winning his first match, Granville-Fort Ann’s Brent Perry rallied to finish seventh, also at 189 in Division II.
Austin and Perry grew up training together and are good friends, so it is only fitting that they both stood on the podium at states.
On Friday, Austin began his tournament by falling to Brett Rooks of Palmyra Macedon by fall at 1:38.
Austin spent a busy day on the mats on Saturday to come all the way back to place. First Austin stayed alive by nipping Jarrett Thayer of Unatego-Unadilla Valley, 6-5. He then pinned Zack Hill of Royalton Hartland-Barker in 2:28.
Next, Austin defeated Deven Beach of SVEC, 3-1, in round four and John Layfield of Wellsville, 4-2.
In the consolation semifinals, Austin lost to Simon Lingle of Newfane, 2-0. He bounced back in the sixth-place match with a 5-1 decision over Jared Bilinski of Dolgeville-OESJ to land on the podium.
“It felt like it was a dream come true,” Austin said about his performance. “I was very excited to be on the podium.”
Perry entered the tournament as the Section II Class C champion and won the section’s state qualifying event two weeks ago with a 1-0 win over Austin. On Friday Perry, the 10t-seed, defeated Jalin Badillo of Nanuet by a 4-0 decision in the second round after receiving a first-round bye. In the quarterfinals, Perry lost a very close 4-3 decision to Lingle.
In the consolation round on Saturday, Perry began the day with a 5-1 decision over Rooks. He then dropped a 4-1 decision to Justin Soriano of Clarke.
In his final match of the tournament, Perry defeated Layfield by a 6-0 decision to place seventh and earn his position on the podium.
Perry, a junior, said he enjoyed the experience of wrestling at states and was pleased that both he and his friend Austin got to stand on the podium together.
“It was an extremely great experience to wrestle at such a high-level tournament,” Perry said. “It was awesome that I was able to place, and even better that I was able to be on the podium with someone I had come all the way up through wrestling with.”
With Austin and Perry being 11th graders, they will both be back next year looking to return to the state tournament, possibly having to go through each other once again.
‘Tough’ Spa Catholic tops Granville
By Keith Harrington
The Granville boys basketball team must have thought they were looking in a mirror.
Nine-seed Saratoga Catholic used a strategy that was a carbon copy of the one typically employed by the eight-seed Golden Horde last Tuesday night and knocked down 3-pointers, created turnovers and scored on transition baskets and drives to the hoop as they took down Granville, 50-35, in the opening round of the Section II Class CC playoffs at Granville.
The Golden Horde struggled to score and seemed flat in general, while the Saints showed that the difficulty of playing in the Wasaren League had them battle-tested.
“Tamarac, Mechanicville, Hoosic Valley, Hoosick Falls. They get a battle every single night,” Granville coach Justin Nassivera said after the game. “It definitely shows in the way they defend. They’re a tough team. They played well and shot lights out. Give them credit.”
Granville took a 4-0 lead on baskets by Alex Warrington and Caleb Nelson. Consecutive three-pointers from Mark Hmura gave the Saints an 8-4 lead and they never trailed again. Saratoga Catholic ended the first period on a 14-1 spurt and controlled the game from there.
The Saints seemed to take the wind out of Granville’s sails early and were clearly the aggressor all night – something that’s out of character for the Golden Horde.
“A couple of times I think we thought the ball was just going to come to us instead of going and getting it,” Nassivera said. “That really isn’t our MO. We’re usually pretty active on going and getting it. It was just one of those nights, I guess.”
Granville seemed to have a little life heading to the locker room at the half. Trailing 23-11, the Golden Horde got a trey from Caleb Nelson and putback at the buzzer from Connor Farrell to cut the margin to seven at the break.
Saratoga Catholic came out and put the game away in the third with seven straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Robbie Bolen, to increase the Saints’ lead to 33-19. They outscored the Golden Horde 19-8 in the stanza to lead 42-24 heading to the fourth.
A 30-3 advantage in points behind the arc was a key factor in the contest.
“They hit 10 threes and we hit one,” Nassivera said. “That’s pretty much the game. If you told me they were only going to score 50 points I would have been okay with that.
“Our guards struggled. They were up in our face and made it tough for us to get anything going on offense.”
Bolen was a menace for the Golden Horde all night. He created steals with his quick hands and drove to the basket, often uncontested. Bolen finished with 24 points, seven steals and seven boards for Saratoga Catholic.
Hmura added 15 points for the Saints.
Caleb Nelson led Granville with 13 points.
Saratoga Catholic improved to 8-13 on the season and advanced to the Class C quarterfinals.
Granville ends the season at 11-9.