SYRACUSE – Terry Nichols has been part of three sectional title teams and the 2014 state champions. The senior point guard wasn’t about to let a chance at a fourth sectional title and a possible fourth trip to the New York State Final Four slip away during Saturday’s Class D semifinal game against a pesky Madison squad.
Nichols scored 17 of his 27 points in the first half as Mills slowly pulled away for a 68-54 victory Saturday at SRC Arena. The Marauders will now go for an amazing eighth straight sectional title when they face rival Oriskany at 11 a.m. next Saturday.
Trailing early, Nichols hit four 3-pointers – a few from nearly 30 feet from the basket – to help keep the Marauders close enough until his supporting cast got going. Griffin Baur also had a nice game, scoring 16 points and Paul Ward had a nice second half, scoring timely hoops in tallying nine of his 11 points to help stall Madison’s comeback hopes.
“We have been in games like this,” Nichols said of getting down early. “Being here before, I kept my composure and knew it was up to me to keep us in it early while everyone else settled down. Then everyone settled down and we started playing well. Griffin did a great job and Ward did a great job, then our entire team started to play well.”
Mills trailed 14-6 with a couple minutes left in the first quarter, but after a bucket by Baur, Nichols hit two long 3-pointers to help Mills close to within 16-14 after the first eight minutes of action.
“It helps to have Terry making half-court 3’s,” Adey said. “He’s not your everyday normal kind of kid.”
After Sam Matteson’s 19-foot jumper gave the Blue Devils their final lead of the game, Nichols nailed his third 3-pointer of the half and added a conventional three-point play to end a 7-0 run to give Mills a 32-25 lead.
Madison, which was led by Tyler Hummer’s 19 points and 18 from Matteson, pulled as close as three in the third and four early in the fourth quarter, but the Marauders ended the game on a 13-4 run for the final margin.
Now the Marauders will have to bring their best game in order to hand Oriskany its first defeat of the season.
“We are not the same team we were a month ago,” New York Mills head coach Mike Adey said. “Now we are getting scoring out of four or five kids. That wasn’t the case a month ago.”
Baur will always like his team’s chances as long as Nichols is playing.
“I really can’t say enough about how Terry plays,” said Baur, a fellow senior. “He carries us at times. I just try to get pressure off him. Everyone knows this is Terry’s team.”
Baur also has the experience of being in big games and has grown more comfortable in taking a lead role this season.
“I’m a role player who tries to hustle and get rebounds and assists,” Baur said. “But this year, coach needs me to score more and I’ve been doing that.”
Playing well early in the final will be a key for the Marauders as they have fallen behind early in both losses to Oriskany.
“We had two slow starts against them,” Baur said. “If we get a better start It could be a whole different story.”
Nichols also knows it will take a great effort and is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a very important game,” Nichols said. “Oriskany is a great team. They are undefeated for a reason and we’ll have to play well. But having a lot of players with experience and who’ve been part of what we’ve accomplished can be an advantage for us.”
New York Mills 68, Madison 54
Madison (17-6): Sam Matteson 7-4 18; Tyler Hummer 8-0 19; Lincoln Pisiak 6-2 15; Gabe linden 1-0 2. Totals: 22-6-54. 3-Pointers: 4 (Hummer 3, Pisiak).
New York Mills (20-3): Terry Nichols 8-7 27; Mike Copperwheat 0-3 3; Jake Kehrli 3-0 6; Griffin Baur 5-5 16; John Mitchell 2-0 4; Paul Ward 5-0 11; Ken Egan 0-1 1. Totals: 23-16-68. 3-Pointers: 6 (Nichols 4, Baur, Ward).