What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four.
When: Saturday at 12:45 p.m. at Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena in Binghamton.
Records: Panama 18-6, OESJ 20-3.
Rankings: Panama is ranked No. 4 in the New York State Sportswriters’ poll. Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville is ranked first in the state.
How they got here: Panama defeated Section V champion Belfast as Jack Sperry drained six 3-pointers during a 19-point performance for the Section VI champion. He broke a 47-47 tie with 4 minutes left with his final 3-pointer of the game, giving Panama the lead for good. Mitch Hovey had six points and 10 assists for the winners, Dominic Spontaneo had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Cam Barmore grabbed 17 rebounds.
Tyler Leon, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead OESJ to a 57-40 win over Section VII champion Wells. The Wolfpack trailed by two at halftime but limited Wells to just 15 second-half points.
Panama key players: Jr. Cam Barmore, 6-4 (21.0 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 3.0 blocks), Sr. Jack Sperry, 6-2 (12.6 ppg), Sr. Mitch Hovey, 5-10 (11.1 ppg, 5.8 apg), Jr. Gerrit Hinsdale, 6-0 (8.0 ppg), Sr. Dom Spontaneo, 6-2 (9.4 ppg).
OESJ key players: Sr. Tyler Leon, 6-4 (16.5 ppg), Sr. Jack Brundage, 6-1 (12.1 ppg), So. Travis Lafountain, 6-3 (11.3 ppg).
Scouting report: Defense is key. Panthers must defend pick and roll and limit Wolfpack to one contested shot.
OESJ runs some match-up zone, but isn’t afraid to switch up to triangle and two or whatever defense it feels gives it a chance at victory. Panama’s offense is based on concept, so moving the ball to get the shot it wants will be vital. If Sperry continues to sizzle from the outside and Barmore gets his points inside, that will make the Panthers a tough out.
Next: The winner advances to the state championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday against either IV-Marathon or X-Harrisville.