ORISKANY, NY — Going into their sectional first-round game on Friday night, there was one intangible that neither Oriskany nor Mount Markham could have possibly planned for: the crowd. Both teams came into the game with student sections that came out full-throated and made concentration totally impossible. However, the seventh-seeded Redskins are used to the noise, and use it as a tool rather than a hindrance.
“We’re a team that likes to feed off of that energy,” Redskins senior Aaron Warcup said. “We don’t care if it’s ours or theirs. It helps us out and helps to build our adrenaline. I knew we were going to be in for a fight.”
That adrenaline pushed the senior forward to 21 points, including seven late in the fourth quarter, as Oriskany made sure the Mustang faithful left with just sore throats and broken hearts. The Redskins took advantage of a 43-28 second half to cap off a 70-64 victory. Mount Markham senior Jordan Baucom led all scorers in a losing effort, putting in 23 points, 12 of those from long range.
“[The loss] is heartbreaking,” Baucom said of what would be the last game for five seniors. “The third quarter killed us. We let them get on a run, and we couldn’t dig out of the hole.”
That hole was dug very early on, as two different styles began to emerge rather quickly. The Redskins looked to use the power of Warcup and fellow seniors Matt Enos and Carl Graziadei to get easy buckets, while the Mustangs were content to use their skill behind the three-point line. However, the Redskins were finding more success, and were able to jump out to a quick 9-5 lead early on. Luckily for Mount Markham, the smaller, speedier Mustangs were able to keep the score close by pushing the ball down the court quickly.
However, the only place they found continued success was at the perimeter and the free throw line. All 16 of the Mustangs’ points would come from those two places (4 three-pointers and 4 for 4 from the free throw line — both teams were a combined 7-7 from the foul line in the quarter). Those free throws had allowed Mount Markham to take a late lead. Unfortunately, the inside presence of Warcup gave Oriskany a late six-point lead that would be cut in half on a three with just a few seconds left to give the Redskins a 19-16 lead at the first-quarter buzzer.
“We tried to take what they were going to give us,” Mount Markham head coach Carl Lohmann said of the Mustangs. “We look for whatever we can take advantage of, and tonight, that was the three-pointer. ”
The three pointer was even more evident in the next period, as a 10-3 run by the Mustangs, helped along by the long-range shooting of sophomore Matt Maine and junior Hunter Senko let them grab an early advantage. What helped the Mount Markham run was the Redskins going stone-cold from everywhere, and the Mustangs took advantage as the crowd in blue grew louder and louder. As they grew even louder, Oriskany lost control, allowing Mount Markham to jump out to an eight-point lead as the quarter drew to a close. The Mustangs outscored their opponents 20-8 in the second period, taking a 36-27 lead into the locker room.
“We didn’t move the ball and they started to make their shots,” Oriskany first-year head coach Rick Cooke said. “If we didn’t get going, it was going to be a long night for us.”
“We got lackadaisical,” Warcup said, “and we had to pick it up. I thought we did better in the second half and I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
That long night got a little bit shorter coming out of the locker room, as suddenly, the Oriskany defense tightened up. Forcing junior Nicholas Entwistle into his fourth foul hurt the Mustangs, losing a big piece of their inside game. That allowed seniors Matt Enos and Warcup to grab the advantage, using free throws and three-pointers to cut their deficit to just four within the first two minutes of the quarter. The defense was also able to get going, keeping the Mustangs without a basket for over three minutes and set the Redskins on a 5-0 run to start the quarter. When the buzzer finally sounded, Oriskany had totally flipped the script, outscoring Mount Markham 21-9 in the third to take a slim 48-45 lead going into the final quarter. Graziadei and junior Steven Armstrong would be a force off the bench, grabbing 13 of the Redskins’ 21 points in the quarter.
According to Cooke, that performance off the bench is what spurred Oriskany to break out in that quarter.
“Carl and Steven were huge for us,” Cooke said. “They were huge…Steven gives us a lift every night off the bench and John [Longeretta] was big on the boards tonight.”
“That drought [in the third quarter] hurt us tonight,” Lohmann said. “They figured some things out that made it tough down the stretch.”
In the fourth quarter, the game came down to two big stars, one on each side: Oriskany’s Warcup and Mount Markham’s Baucom, and they certainly did not disappoint. Baucom would start the see-saw final period on a roll , grabbing six of the first eight points from where the Mustangs had set up all night: the three-point area and the free throw line.
On the other side, Warcup continued to be dominant under the basket for Oriskany, using his height to his advantage to grab big offensive rebounds as their lead grew bigger. However, Baucom was not going to let his Mustangs go down without a fight, cutting the lead to a basket several times with timely shots all over the perimeter. However, the 6-foot-4 Warcup played like a man possessed, taking the Redskins on a 4-0 run by himself and giving them a five-point lead heading into a late timeout by the Mustangs.
“Once we see one person going off, they all feed off of the energy,” Warcup said. “We just get everyone pumped up and feed off of that energy.”
Out of the timeout, two big three pointers by Baucom would cut the lead to one with just under a minute left. However, that was as far as the Mustangs would get, as John Longeretta finished off the tired Mount Markham defense, picking up a lob from the end line for a quick layup-and-one to ice the game, amid a fired-up bunch of Oriskany students as time ran out.
With the loss, Lohmann says goodbye to five seniors, including Baucom, but thanked him and the self-proclaimed “Mount Markham Zoo” for all their hard work to get to the point they had.
“Our fans travel well,” Lohmann said. “They definitely lifted us up tonight. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win tonight. [The seniors] raised the bar pretty high for the future for us….but we have 15 eighth-graders coming up next year. With all we have, the future looks bright for us.”
On the other side, Cooke looks toward a daunting task in the next round: a date with perennial Class C favorite Cooperstown (who knocked off Thousand Islands on Friday) in the second round. The last time the Redskins and Hawkeyes faced off was two years ago, when Warcup was a sophomore, and Oriskany was beaten handily by the Hawkeyes both times. This will also be the first time Cooke has faced off against Cooperstown as the Oriskany head coach, and he expected an explosive matchup now that there is a trip to Onondaga Community College and the sectional semifinals on the line.
“Cooperstown’s going to be a tough test,” Cooke said. “We have our work cut out for us, but we’re happy to get the chance to face them. We’re going to go down there and play as hard as we can…we’ll see what happens from there.”
For Warcup, the experience will be familiar, but he knows the game will be one for the ages.
“I know [Cooperstown senior Jack] Lambert…he’s a good shooter, so we have to guard against that,” Warcup said. “[Hawkeyes senior Noah] Lifgren is the same player as me, so I’m going to tell my teammates to play me in practice just like they’d play him. We have to want it more than them…it’s going to be a show. I’m excited and the team’s excited.”
If it’s anything like the performance both teams put on Friday, both student sections should be rocking come next Tuesday in Cooperstown.
Oriskany 70, Mount Markham 64
Section III, Class C First Round Game
Redskins 19 8 21 22 70
Mustangs 16 20 9 19 64
Oriskany Redskins (70)
Carl Graziadei 5 0-0 11, Colton Davis 2 2-4 7, John Longeretta 3 1-1 8, Matt Enos 3 0-0 9, Aaron Warcup 7 7-9 21, Steven Armstrong 5 1-2 14. Totals: 25 11-18 70.
Mount Markham Mustangs (64)
Ethan Maine 4 6-9 16, Hunter Senko 2 0-0 6, Eddie King 2 2-4 7, Jordan Baucom 8 3-5 23, Nicholas Mondore 1 3-3 6, Nick Entwistle 2 2-2 6. Totals: 19 16-23 64.
Halftime: Mount Markham 36, Oriskany 27.
Three-Point Field Goals: Mount Markham 10 (Baucom 4, Maine 2, Senko 2, King, Mondore), Oriskany 9 (Enos 3, Armstrong 3, Graziadei, Davis, Longeretta).
Records: Oriskany 13-7, Mount Markham 11-10.