A boys basketball team on the rise will try to knock off one that's been at the top for quite some time at 4 p.m. Saturday.

That's when Cherry Valley-Springfield will meet defending Tri-Valley League champion Laurens in the crossover final at Oneonta State.

East Division winner CV-S (10-8) returns to the T-V championship game for the first time since 2002. That year, the Patriots fell to Franklin, 48-43.

Although six basketball seasons have since passed without a CV-S team in the final, the Patriots have been in the thick of several other boys championship hunts in sports such as soccer, baseball and track.

"There's a lot of big-game, pressure-situation experience from these kids," said CV-S coach Jordan Jaquay, whose program beat Milford, 68-66, in the 1999 crossover. "We've been on a nice roll for the last four years in boys athletics in terms of championship-game experience. Being in these situations (previously) has helped my kids at the end of some games this year."

Laurens (15-3) certainly is no stranger to big games. A perennial boys soccer power, the Leopards will make their fifth boys basketball crossover appearance in the last seven seasons Saturday. Laurens has won the T-V title three times during that span _ a 41-34 victory over Franklin in 2003; a 39-38 edging of Worcester in 2005; and a 46-35 defeat of Milford last season.

"They all have experience playing at this level last year," said Laurens coach Andy Carr, whose only loss to a T-V opponent this season came Feb. 6 against Edmeston (57-53). The Leopards' other losses were against Maine-Endwell (71-38 on Nov. 28) and undefeated South Kortright (44-36 on Dec. 30). "I've got five kids who start and all of them have some time on the varsity level, so it makes my job easier.

"We're not cocky about (Saturday's game), but we're not real nervous because we've been there before," he continued. "They won't go in being shell-shocked."

Senior starters Aaron Laing, Jordan Dilello and Ryan Carr have combined to score more than 73 percent of the Leopards' 1,023 points this season. Center Laing averages team-highs of 15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.8 blocks for Laurens, which receives 15.3 points per game from guard Dilello and 10.9 ppg from Carr.

Junior point guard Matt Struckle (5.4 ppg) and 6-foot-4 junior center/forward Jordon Davis (4.4) round out the Leopards' starting five.

"They're pretty valuable," Andy Carr said of his starters. "We're not deep on the bench with players at this level."

Laing's numbers are similar to last season (12.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.8 blocks), when he earned the Tri-Valley League's only Daily Star First Team All-Star honor.

Carr said Dilello will be at "about 75 or 80 percent" Saturday as he continues to recover from a broken right hand. Carr said Dilello injured his shooting hand before Laurens routed Schenevus, 70-31, on Feb. 4. The Leopards lost their next game as Edmeston kept Dilello to four points.

Still, Laurens probably will try to control the flow Saturday, as usual.

"We love to run in transition," Andy Carr said. "We like to get it out and go. We've been lucky to have some guards who can get it going down the floor. We do a lot of double-screen stuff and we don't do a lot of catch-and-shooting. Let's take the high percentage shot. It's catch, pull through to your strong side and drive to the basket."

CV-S looks to avenge a 68-33 loss to Laurens on Jan. 16. The Patriots fell to 2-6 with that setback, then won eight of their next nine games. They closed the regular season with a 60-28 loss to Edmeston on Feb. 13, the same day Laurens clinched the T-V West title with a 49-43 victory over Morris that bumped the Panthers from the division race.

Kyle Flint, a 6-3 junior center, leads the senior-laden Patriots with 11.2 points per game. Jaquay said his team relies on balance, though, as seniors Mike Cagganello (10.1 ppg), David Adams (8.9), Scott Sheldon (5.9) and Chip Taylor (4.5) have scored in double digits at various times this season.

Trending Video