Those watching feel it will be an instant classic.
Yes, the expectations for the New York State Class A region final between Our Lady of Lourdes High School and Poughkeepsie on Saturday are high. Both the Pioneers and Warriors are excited, but their enthusiasm for the big game isn’t negating their focus.
“We haven’t played Poughkeepsie in a long time,” Lourdes senior center James Anozie said. “We’re going to have to limit them. They like to run, so we’re going to have to hold them down somehow.”
The Warriors and Pioneers will meet at noon at Pace University in Pleasantville. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, but was postponed because of inclement weather. The winner will face either Section 8’s Elmont Memorial or Southampton of Section 11 in the state semifinals on Friday at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.
Lourdes (18-6) captured the Section 1 championship with a 42-39 win over Tappan Zee on March 5. Anozie led the Warriors with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and it marked the Warriors’ first section title since 2013. Lourdes, which received a bye into the regional final, has never won a state championship in boys basketball.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to go there,” Warriors coach Jim Santoro said. “Winning a section title is most teams’ goal, and now that we did that, we have the opportunity to go a little bit further.”
Poughkeepsie (15-7) won the Section 9 title in overtime, defeating Goshen 100-92 on March 5. The Pioneers went on to beat Johnson City of Section 4, 73-59, in the regional semifinal on Tuesday. Marvin Lunsford scored 21 points to lead Poughkeepsie over Goshen, while Antawone West added 19.
Lunsford and Corey Simmons each scored 20 in the Pioneers’ win over Johnson City. Poughkeepsie last won a state title in 1995, competing in Class B.
“I like our tenacity,” Poughkeepsie coach Jerome Elting said. “Our kids are focused. If we do the things we’re supposed to and play our style, we should be OK.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports