Lumberjacks hoops claim Section X, Class C title | News, Sports, Jobs

Tupper Lake’s head coach Brian Bennett, center, high fives Garrett Pelkey after winning the Section X, Class C championship game at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall on Friday.
(Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

POTSDAM — After suffering a loss in the Section X, Class C boys basketball championship game one season ago, Tupper Lake senior Tom Peterson spent much of this year imagining what it would be like to finally earn the sectional crown.

On Friday, Peterson’s dreams became a reality when the Lumberjacks outlasted the Lisbon Golden Knights 60-56 in overtime victory at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall, earning the program’s first sectional title since 2014.

“All season it was in the back of my head this moment right here, and it is way, way better than I thought it would be,” Peterson said.

The Lumberjacks were in the lead for nearly the entire contest. Late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Knights overcame an eight-point deficit and evened the game at 52-52 on a 3-pointer from AJ Donaldson with 46.4 seconds left, which essentially forced overtime.

“It was heartbreaking. When we went into overtime I got a little emotional,” Tupper Lake forward Tyler LaPlante said. “As a senior it could have been my last time playing tonight.”

Tupper Lake’s Tom Peterson, right, makes a move past Lisbon’s Connor Flack during Friday’s Section X, Class C championship game at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall.
(Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

The Lumberjacks jumped out to a slim 58-56 in overtime, and came away with a key steal, which LaPlante hauled in. He was fouled, sending him to the free-throw line.

LaPlante made two free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining to secure the sectional victory.

“There were some stressful shots. And I’m not a shooter either,” he said. “As soon as I hit the first one I was like ‘OK.’ They called a timeout and stressed me out a little bit. I walked up to the line — and that could’ve been my game. We went into sudden death and from there it’s just play with your heart.”

After LaPlante drained the second of his two foul shots, Tupper Lake head coach Brian Bennett’s arms shot up in celebration. LaPlante, along with the rest of the Lumberjacks players, felt relief and joy.

“I told them all, when Tyler makes a foul shot you can literally sit down and I think Tyler literally sat down,” Bennett said. “I (also) told them if he makes that, it’s done, and Tyler made it and he treated it like it was done.”

Tupper Lake’s Ashton Clark, left, looks to make a play with Lisbon’s AJ Donaldson defending him during Friday’s Section X, Class C championship game at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

The Lumberjacks were led by its 1,000-point duo of Peterson and Michael Corneau, who combined for 50 points. Peterson scored a game-high 26 points, while Corneau added 24, including six 3-pointers. LaPlante had six points and Garrett Pelkey scored four.

Cooper Rutherford, who scored his 1,000th career point against Tupper Lake in December, paced the Golden Knights with 21 points. Donaldson contributed with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Isaiah White chipped in with six points, Lucas Gravlin had five, Connor Bell scored four and Connor Flack recorded two. Lisbon finished its season with a 16-6 record.

The win marked the its second victory this season over the Golden Knights. The Lumberjacks topped Lisbon by a wide 83-50 margin earlier in the season.

On Friday, when Tupper Lake’s Corneau drained a 3-point shot just one minute into the second quarter to give his team a 21-7 lead, the Lumberjacks appeared to be on track to cruise past the Golden Knights.

However, Tupper Lake was never able to shake off Lisbon, which rallied with a 7-0 run in and trailed 30-22 at halftime. The Golden Knights cut lead to one in the third quarter at 30-29, but Tupper Lake closed out the third with a 12-5 run.

The Tupper Lake boys basketball poses with the Section X, Class C banner after topping the Lisbon Golden Knights 60-56 in overtime on Friday at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall. It was the first time the Lumberjacks boys basketball team won a sectional banner since 2014.
(Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

“The huge difference that Lisbon had was they kept throwing fresh bodies off the bench and we didn’t have that luxury as much as we would’ve loved to have that luxury,” Bennett said. “We played five bodies. Two guys got about a minute break. Five starters played 31 minutes.”

The Golden Knights’ Rutherford, a junior, took advantage of a gassed Lumberjacks defense, scoring eight points in the fourth quarter, while Donaldson chipped in five. While Lisbon outscored Tupper Lake 18-10 in the fourth quarter, Peterson said his team remained calm.

“We knew that we had a big lead and then we lost it and we just had to stay calm,” he said. “I think for us staying calm and staying composed really helped us.”

For Tupper Lake team, the win was the culmination of countless hours and weekends in the gymnasium. Most of the players have played on the same teams since they were in fifth grade.

“We’ve always had that chemisty together,” LaPlante said.

Tupper Lake’s Michael Corneau shoots a 3-pointer during Friday’s Section X, Class C championship game at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall.
(Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

Bennett said the first thing he thought of when his team won the title was all the weekends that they were playing basketball. On Sundays, Bennett opens the high school gym to his players.

“(It’s) probably 20 to 25 weekends a year on the lower end it,” Bennett said. “(But winning this) makes ever second of it worth it.”

With the win, Tupper Lake, which improved to 19-3 overall, will face off against the Section 2 Champion in the NYSPHSAA Class C subregional round on March 5 at Maxcy Hall in Potsdam. The Section 2, Class C Champion will be determined on Friday, March 1.

While the Lumberjacks await for Section 2 to crown a champion, the team will compete in the Section X Championships at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Maxcy Hall in Potsdam against the Canton Golden Bears. The game will not change the outcome of the Lumberjacks season, but will be used to determine the top Section X team among its four sectional champions from the — Class A, B, C and D teams. The winners of the two Section X games will meet in a championship game.

Tupper Lake 60, Lisbon 56 OT

Lumberjacks 16 14 12 10 8 — 60

Golden Knights 7 15 12 18 4 — 56

Tupper Lake (60)

To. Peterson 10-5-26, Corneau 8-2-24, LaPlante 2-2-6, Pelkey 2-0-4, Clark 0-0-0, Esturo 0-0-0, McClain 0-0-0, Tower 0-0-0, Ti. Peterson 0-0-0, Barkley 0-0-0, Bujold 0-0-0, Strack 0-0-0. Totals: 22-9-60.

Lisbon (56)

Flack 1-0-2, Donaldson 6-3-18, Bell 1-0-2, White 2-0-6, Rutherford 9-2-21, Fonda 0-0-0, Mills 0-0-0, Ghize 0-0-0, Vesel 0-0-0, Jerome 0-0-0, Gravlin 1-3-5, Quinlan 0-0-0. Totals: 21-8-56.

3-point goals: Tupper Lake (7) Corneau 6, Peterson. Lisbon (6) Donaldson 3, White 2, Rutherford.

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