Section 4 boys basketball’s last remaining unbeaten, the group that has played 75 percent of its games away from home yet outscored foes by a 15-point norm, the fellas who secured the program’s first unbeaten regular season in 26 years, shift into postseason mode adhering to the motto they’ve observed throughout.
Everyone. Every Day.
As in, it’s about a whole lot more than what is arguably the section’s premier 1-2 combination this winter at Whitney Point, where the record is 17-0 and near-term aim targets a couple breakthrough achievements.
First to scratch off the to-do list is IAC Large School supremacy, which would require success against Watkins Glen on Thursday night at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The Golden Eagles reached the final the last two odd-numbered years, only to come up dry versus Watkins Glen and Waverly, respectively.
Next, they’ll chase top honors in Section 4 Class B, likely as No. 2 seed back of three-time defending champion Norwich. The Point hasn’t celebrated a sectional basketball title since back when present coach Steve Morgan bellied up to a desk in a sixth-grade classroom.
Having cracked the top 10 in state rankings this week, No. 9 Whitney Point boasts one of two perfect records among the top 25 in Class B, joining fourth-ranked, 18-0 Hoosick Falls.
And here’s one of the reasons Coach Morgan has made his way up my list.
The question chucked his way: Were it suggested on Day 1 that you’d be overseeing the section’s last remaining unbeaten, you’d have said?
“That was a goal that the kids had, a goal I certainly thought was a possibility — knew it was going to be difficult, though,” he said, straightforward as can be. No baloney. Zero pretense. Guy just said it, minus coachspeak and moonshine and all that ordinarily accompanies response to such an inquiry.
He’d watched his squad grow, through a summer of competition against a caliber above that ordinarily encountered up and down the IAC schedule. He was abundantly aware that, with the Zach Marsh/Gabe Shrauger duo supported by a cast that had matured and improved and proven its worth, something a cut above damn-well should have been expected.
Marsh and Shrauger are four-season varsity boys. And if there’s a more productive, valuable and dependable 1-2 on the Section 4 landscape, that pair has been well-camouflaged.
Combo-guard Marsh is an 18-point, five-assist, five-rebound contributor who, by Eagles statistical charts, will lace up his kicks for the conference final having committed 18 turnovers. Eighteen! Either the stat keeper is asleep at the pencil here and there or this kid is uncannily protective of the basketball.
Shrauger? A man. Tight end in basketball garb. Big, strong, and for him the more torso-to-torso tussle and the fewer whistles the better. My kind of guy — and with 15.6-point, 10-rebound averages to show for it, as well as 64 percent shooting.
Yeah, sign me up for a Gabe on each block.
But, as Morgan freely shared, “Last year it was mostly the Marsh & Shrauger Show. If they weren’t going to win the game for us then we weren’t going to win.”
Not this go-round. Not with Brady Harrington’s 11.3 scoring average and quickness and ball skills and defensive prowess. Not with versatile Sean Kelly, an inside-outside threat good for 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, but who’ll also drop a 3-pointer on you. Not with Bobby Stevens’ improved offensive game to go with his penchant for defending and disrupting.
Those are the first five from a squad that lost starter Jared Bieber to a broken hand in mid-January.
The 2014-15 Golden Eagles pieced together the program’s first perfect regular season since the Jack Halloran-coached 1988-89 team absorbed its lone loss in a 26-game season from Lyons in the state final in Glens Falls. Jerry Mackey and Adam Arnold were all-tourney selections, and there was a big fella named Shrauger on that team. Yep, Gabe’s Daddy.
In 1993, Whitney Point returned to the state title game and this time delivered Coach his 630th and final victory, 57-53 over Broadalbin-Perth to punctuate a 23-win season. Corey Green was MVP in Glens Falls, Chris Clark and Eric Czebiniak all-tourney choices.
So, one more for Morgan, proud member of Whitney Point’s Class of ’99: This season will go down as a success if we … ?
“That’s a tough one,” he said. After a moment, he continued.
“It’ll be a successful season if we play together. We’ve been playing together all year. If we continue to do that on both ends of the floor … If we play together and somebody beats us, it’ll be because they’re better than us.”
Stevens can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @PSBKevin.