Blackbirds fly as Class B champs
The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Driver: Senior Noah Crawford makes a move towards the basket for Voorheesville on Ogdensburg Free Academy’s Jack Manke during Tuesday’s Class B regional game at Saratoga High School. The Blackbirds lost, 80 to 49, ending its season. Junior Kinnon LaRose scored 30 points for the Blue Devils of Section 10.
Even though Voorheesville’s electric season ended with a lopsided loss to the second ranked team in the state on Tuesday, it wasn’t before the Blackbirds completed its ultimate goal of winning a Class B basketball championship.
It may be bittersweet, but Voorheesville got the sectional title that it had wanted since last summer.
Tuesday’s 31-point loss to Section 10 champion Ogdensburg Free Academy came after a beat down that Voorheesville was on the right side of, a 61-to-37 win over Broadalbin-Perth at Glens Falls Civic Center last Saturday. It was the Blackbirds’ first title since 2005.
Senior Joe Vogel, who has intimidating size and height, said that winning a sectional championship is the best feeling he’s ever had because he won it with his teammates, or what he called a “family of brothers.”
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Vogel said last Saturday. “We won the biggest game of the year. Each and every one of them are my brothers, and we fought through everything together. We’ve been hungry and we wanted it.”
Voorheesville, winners of 19 straight games coming into last Saturday’s final, knew that Class B was theirs to win, Vogel said. “We didn’t think it, we knew it,” he said. “We always fight hard, and we didn’t want to lose.”
The Blackbirds put Broadalbin-Perth on its heels early with greater size and quicker speed. Dylan Hensel’s rainbow three-pointer put Voorheesville ahead, 12 to 2. Hensel made four threes during the game, and finished with 20 points.
Logan Hotaling, one of five starting seniors for the Birds, said that winning Class B was something special.
“It feels fantastic,” Hotaling said with a huge smile. “We’ve been working our butts off in practice every day, pushing each other, and always getting better.”
Voorheesville had a 34-to-19 lead at halftime on Saturday, and, with how well the Birds were playing, Broadalbin-Perth didn’t stand much of a chance to come back. In the fourth quarter, Alex Minnick came off the bench for the Blackbirds and ran the entire floor, finishing the play with a lay-up as fans and teammates celebrated loudly.
“That was amazing,” Vogel said of Minnick’s moment of glory. “He fights every day in practice, so he really deserved that.”
Once the fourth quarter began, it was clear that Voorheesville would be claiming its first title since 2005. Hotaling ended up fouling out on a questionable call, and seemed frustrated when he took a seat on the bench.
Hotaling was soon to be a sectional champion, so how could he be mad?
“I didn’t think I played to the best of my ability,” said Hotaling after the game. “It’s frustrating, but that’s the thing about our team — I have a bad game or someone else has an off game — we have so many weapons, players, that can pull us out of the ditch, help each other out.”
Voorheesville had four senior players — Hensel, Hotaling, Vogel, and Noah Crawford — that could score 25 points on any given night this season. On Tuesday, after the Birds’ 80-to-49 loss to Ogdensburg Free Academy, Head Coach David Burch said he was grateful to have had a team that knew how to share the ball.
“There’s a sense of pride,” Burch said. “They bought into everything and made the team important.”
Burch, a Voorheesville graduate, was able to win a championship in just his second year coaching the team. He said that the 2012-13 season was full of trials and tribulations, and that fueled the players in the off-season.
“They put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Burch said on Saturday of his players. “They told me at the beginning of the season that this is what they wanted, especially after going up and down last year.”
Burch told The Enterprise that all 14 Voorheesville players pushed each other to the edge. The Blackbirds weren’t going to settle for anything less than a Class B title.
“They don’t let each other rest or become complacent,” said Burch. “They’re a great group, and they work hard for me every day.”
Vogel said that Voorheesville fights harder in practice than in an actual game. That daily battle was worth the effort because the Birds got what it was always fighting for.
“They’re a bunch of kids who love basketball, and who truly love being around each other,” said Burch. “It’s an awesome combination.”