St. Joe's has reached Glens Falls thanks in large part by overpowering teams with its pressure defense and transition offense. It will be meeting a team that got there the same way.
And thanks to a friendly basketball neighbor, the Marauders have a pretty good scouting report.
Catholic state champion St. Joe's will take on Peekskill of Westchester County at 6:45 p.m. Friday in the state Federation tournament Class A semifinals. Peekskill won the state public school Class A crown by beating Sweet Home on Sunday, 46-39, and Panthers coach Paul Schintzius brought back some game film for St. Joe's coach Mark Simon.
"I talked to coach Schintzius, and he had video we've been able to watch -- from everything we've pieced together, they've broken a lot of teams down with their press," said Simon. "We have to figure out how to handle the pressure. That's been our calling card, too."
One week after being the site for the public school final four, the Glens Falls Civic Center plays host to the Federation championships. The Federation tournament brings together the champions of the state's four athletic associations: public, Catholic, independent and New York City's Public Schools Athletic League.
The only brackets that are complete with four teams, however, are the Class B boys and girls. Western New York has representatives in both B brackets: state public school boys champion Lackawanna and state independent girls champion Immaculata.
St. Joe's, seeking its first Federation title in school history, is hoping to advance to Saturday's 3:45 p.m. championship. Long Island's Lawrence Woodmere Academy, the independent champion, received a bye to the final.
Peekskill is in its fourth Federation tournament, winning the title in 1996 with a team that featured Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Red Devils' proud lineage also includes Hilton Armstrong of this year's University of Connecticut squad.
This year's Red Devil team is led by 6-8 slender sophomore and public school final four MVP Mookie Jones, 6-6, 260-pound senior Derek Dennis and a rotation of six steal-happy guards.
"That's our thing," 23rd-year Peekskill coach Lou Panzanaro said of his team's full-court pressure. "The idea is not necessarily the turnovers, but just to make them work mentally and physically the entire game. We want to be the aggressor."
Schintzius thinks St. Joe's has what it takes to handle the press in point guard Domonic Cook as well as three players who can penetrate and hit the three-pointer: Naaman Roosevelt, John Greer and Devon Dawson.
"For Joe's, at any one point in time, they have four guys who can catch the ball in the open floor and make a play," said Schintzius. "I think it will be a great game."
Roosevelt was the record-setting quarterback for the St. Joe's football team, and three of his best receivers were Cook, Greer and Dawson. Because football doesn't have a state-wide playoff with full representation like basketball's Federation, the Marauders finished the football season ranked sixth in the state but unable to see how they stacked up on the field.
"[Assistant] Jack [Herlan] and I have talked about how it would be great for them," said Simon. "The football part was cut short. Now they have a chance to win an overall state championship."