Three years ago, the Moravia High boys basketball team — led by senior guard T.J. Powers — rolled past Groton in the Section 4 Class C final and made it all the way to the state semifinals before falling to eventual state champ Buffalo Middle College.
This time around, it’s Powers’ younger brother, three-sport star Dylan, who’s the senior leader for the seventh-ranked Blue Devils (20-2). They take the first step toward the school’s first state championship Saturday morning when they meet Section 3 champion and third-ranked Beaver River (21-1) in the Class C quarterfinals.
The game, originally scheduled for 1 p.m. at Binghamton High, was switched earlier this week and will be played at 11 a.m. at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena, in the first of a six-game state playoff smorgasbord.
The younger Powers was a freshman on the 2010 sectional champion, and the following year led coach Todd Mulvaney’s Blue Devils to a second straight Section 4 crown. But the state tournament trip was a short one for Moravia, as it fell in the regional round to Syracuse Academy of Science. Like Buffalo Middle College in 2010, SAS went on to win the state Class C championship after vanquishing the Blue Devils.
Elmira Notre Dame won the Class C sectional title a year ago, but the Blue Devils are back in the state tournament this year and are on a roll heading to Syracuse. Mulvaney’s squad has won nine in a row since a 72-45 shellacking on the road at the hands of Whitney Point. Included were a pair of playoff victories over Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small South champion Odessa-Montour — 55-51 in the IAC Small School final, and 85-41 in the Section 4 Class C semis — and last weekend’s 52-41 sectional final victory over Watkins Glen.
Dylan Powers scored 22 points, including 13 in the first half, to lead the Blue Devils past the Senecas last weekend at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. Moravia’s only other loss this season came at home to Dryden, 67-65, on Jan. 15, with the Purple Lions rallying from 14 points down at halftime and getting a Gage Ellis layup in the final 15 seconds for the win.
Beaver River, whose only loss this season came in mid-December to Section 3 Class B power South Jefferson, has won 18 in a row. Senior guard Sam Widrick (16.5 ppg.) scored 25 points — including five 3-pointers — in the Beavers’ 68-65 sectional championship victory over Mohawk last Sunday at the Carrier Dome. Widrick has made 49 shots from beyond the arc this season.
Alex Hall added 12 points and 12 rebounds for coach Lynn Petzoldt’s club, which led by as many as 19 points in the second half and withstood a furious Mohawk comeback, fueled by Mohicans 6-5 senior Carson Murphy, who led all scorers with 38 points.
The winner advances to the state Class C semifinals next Saturday in Glens Falls, where it will take on either Pine Plains (Sect. 9) or Stony Brook (Sect. 11). That game is scheduled to tip off at 1:30 p.m.