Red Storm hoopers top Lumberjacks

Saranac Lake's Gabe Wilson dribbles the basketball down the court during Friday's game against Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

SARANAC LAKE — After finishing last season undefeated, the Saranac Lake boys basketball team picked up where it left off on Friday.

Playing at home, the Red Storm defeated the Tupper Lake Lumberjacks 71-58, to earn the team’s eighth straight victory.

Saranac Lake was paced by Nate McCarthy’s game-high 23 points. McCarthy, who was a big factor for the Red Storm last season, had returned to playing sports for the first time since having ankle surgery.

“We weren’t sure if he was going to be back until possibly January and he was ahead of his recovery, and what a difference it is,” Red Storm head coach Dermott Morgan said. “When we have Nate McCarthy on the floor, our chances of winning the game go way up.”

McCarthy is one of four starters from last season who returned to the team this year. The other three include Gabe Wilson, Carter Hewitt and Landon Faubert. The four combined for a triumphant 67 points.

Tupper Lake’s Grant Godin drives with the basketball toward the hoop with Saranac Lake’s Nate McCarthy guarding him during Friday’s game. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

“When I have those four guys, we’re capable of doing some good things,” Morgan said.

The experience level appeared to be one of the biggest factors in the game.

“We have two returning seniors and three sophomores who had their first-ever varsity game tonight,” Lumberjacks head coach Brian Bennett said. “I thought the two seniors, Grant Godin and Eli Kolzer, really showed that they have definitely played a varsity game before.”

The first quarter was controlled by the Red Storm. The team took a 22-12 lead over the Lumberjacks, which ultimately set the tone for the game.

In the next two quarters, the Lumberjacks found their groove, outscoring the Saranac Lake 32-31 over the course of the second and third quarters. The team was even within single digits at one point.

“I definitely thought that we missed some wide-open shots that if we had made, it would have been a totally different game,” Bennett said.

Tupper Lake’s Kolzer played a key role in the Lumberjacks scoring tilt. He finished the game with a team-high 21 points.

“Tupper Lake played extremely well. They shot really well. Eli killed us inside and we couldn’t keep him off the boards,” Morgan said. “Every time we tried to run away from them, they never gave up and they plowed their way back.”

With momentum steadily shifting toward the Lumberjacks, Saranac Lake looked to one of its four returning starters, Hewitt, to help shut down Tupper Lake and close out the game.

“We knew going into the fourth quarter that we had to play some defense and I think that helped us at the end of the game,” Morgan said.

Hewitt scored nine points in the final quarter to earn Saranac Lake the win. Hewitt finished the game with 15 points.

“He (Hewitt) brings that certain element to a basketball game where you don’t coach it. He’s gonna out-hustle everybody, he’s gonna out-muscle everybody,” Morgan said. “In the fourth quarter, he came in off the bench, he was in foul trouble. I think he got to the foul line about four times real quick and we started rolling with him.”

Saranac Lake’s Faubert and Wilson also had double-digit point totals. Faubert had 15 and Wilson had 14. Caleb Akey and Markus Navarra each had two points in the win.

Godin had a strong effort for Tupper Lake, finishing with 14 points. Mike Corneavy also had a great offensive night with 11 points.

Saranac Lake will look to keep the win streak rolling as the team will take on Northern Adirondack at home on Wednesday. While Tupper Lake was able to rebound with a 65-54 win over Libson on Saturday. The 1-1 Lumberjacks will travel to Chateaugay for its next game on Tuesday.


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