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NYSPHSAA Class C boys basketball semifinal: Middle Early College Kats vs. II-Lake George Warriors

What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four.

When: Saturday at 9 a.m. at Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena in Binghamton.

Records: Middle College 21-4, Lake George 26-0.

Rankings: Middle Early College is ranked No. 3 in the Buffalo News’ Small Schools poll and No. 2 in the New York State Sportswriters’ poll. Lake George is ranked first in the state.

How they got here: Middle Early College rallied from a 19-point deficit with under 12 minutes left to defeat Section V private school C.G. Finney, 64-60. Ja’kari Nettles led the comeback with 23 points and 23 rebounds. Senior teammate Traemelle Stevens-Richardson had 10 points and 12 rebounds, and junior Keith Brown’s transition layup off a Jamond Jones steal and assist gave the Kats the lead for good with 2:19 left.

Defending state champion Lake George rallied from a 28-21 halftime deficit to defeat Section VII school Moriah, 54-46. A 19-9 fourth quarter sealed the win, putting the Warriors in position to contend for their fourth state title in 10 years. Chris Becker had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Lake George, which has won 54 straight games.

Middle Early College key players: Sr. Traemelle Stevens-Richardson, 6-0 (9.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Jr. Jamond Jones, 6-0 (17.1 ppg, 4.6 apg), Sr. Ja’Kari Nettles, 6-4 (13.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg), Jr. Devonte Prince, 5-7 (12.5 ppg), Jr. Keyunte Jones, 5-10 (6.1 ppg).

Lake George key players: Sr. Chris Becker, 6-6 (20.1 ppg, 10.5 rpg), Sr. Mason Flatley, 6-2 (16.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.4 apg), Sr. Connor Vidnasky, 5-11 (6.2 ppg).

Scouting report: This is where playing in a league that includes tough Class A, B and C teams pays off for Middle College. It all starts with defense for the Kats as they’ve limited foes to 60 or fewer points 19 times and yielded more than 70 points just once. They will need to play defense the way they did during the final 12 minutes of Saturday’s regional and the way they did against Randolph in the Section VI Class C final in order to give itself a chance against a Lake George team appearing in its third straight Final Four.

The Lake George dynasty is looking to run the table for the second year in a row after winning the state title with a 28-0 mark last year – beating Rochester private school Northstar Christian by a point. The Warriors are led by inside-outside duo of Becker and Flatley, but Flatley is the elder statesman on the team and runs the show offensively.

Next: The winner advances to the state championship game at 12 p.m. Sunday against either III-Cooperstown or XI-Greenport.

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