Blue Devils fall to Moravia in Class C final

Haldane scoresFor the second straight year, the Haldane boys’ basketball team came within two baskets of a state title.

Moravia, a school located southwest of Syracuse, won the Class C state championship, 41-38, over the Blue Devils on March 16 in Glens Falls. The Moravia girls’ team also won the Class C title this year.

A parade scheduled for Sunday along Main Street in Cold Spring to welcome the players home was canceled at the team’s request, which said in a statement it “felt it was a lot to emotionally deal with the day after our loss.”

“We are very sorry we were not able to bring it home, but we hope we entertained you in the wild ride that we took to play until the very last day,” the players said.

The Blue Devils lost in the championship game last year to Randolph, 58-55, after nearly overcoming an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

This year’s game was different. It was a defensive battle from the start, with Haldane held to its lowest point total of the season. From the get-go, baskets were hard to come by — the first quarter ended with Haldane leading, 12-9. Senior Matt Nachamkin, who will play next season for Williams College, scored seven of those points for the Blue Devils.

In the second quarter, senior Ross Esposito scored nine points and the Blue Devils held a nine-point lead with 2:14 left in the half. But Moravia responded with back-to-back three-pointers from Kyler Proper and Logan Bell and a basket in the lane at the buzzer by Proper to cut the deficit to three, 25-22.

With 5:40 left in the third, Proper tied the game at 27 with a three-pointer before Moravia went cold. After Nachamkin hit two free throws, Haldane held a five-point lead with two minutes remaining before Bell scored five points in a minute — two free throws and a three-pointer — to bring it even at 32.

Photos by Skip Pearlman

After the teams traded baskets to start the fourth, three minutes passed with the scored tied at 34. At 4:02 Nachamkin scored on a layup but 12 seconds later Proper answered with another three.

Haldane teamNachamkin hit two free throws with 3:04 left to give Haldane a one-point lead but Bell nailed a three-pointer to put Moravia up, 40-38, with 2:11 left.

Haldane had opportunities to tie the game, but after an errant pass the Blue Devils had to foul to stop the clock with 4.8 seconds left. Moravia hit one of two free throws to make it a 3-point game; Nachamkin grabbed the rebound and went full steam up the court for a chance to tie with a three but the ball was knocked away.

Nachamkin finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, but his teammates scored only 19 points combined.

Haldane loses nine seniors to graduation — Nachamkin, Esposito, Michael Murray, Evan Giachinta and Ryan Van Tassel, as well as Erik Stubblefield, Jordon Hankel, PJ Ruggiero and Dylan Rucker — and will move to Class B next year after the state shifted the enrollment numbers for each of its six divisions. (At Haldane, only football and cross-country will remain in Class C; lacrosse will be in Class D.)

matteo and evan
Matteo Cervone (left), a member of the 2022-23 Haldane team that reached the Class C final, attended the Saturday game. He is shown with senior Evan Giachinta. Cervone, who plays for Bowdoin College, had knee surgery earlier this month. (Photo by Kim Giachinta)

It was the fourth trip to the Final Four and the third trip to the title game for Coach Joe Virgadamo, who finished his 18th season at 21-4 and 25 years ago this month, as a Haldane senior, helped the Blue Devils win their first sectional title.

“Most teams want to make it to the Westchester County Center and win the section — these guys wanted to make it to the Final Four,” he said after the game.

Nachamkin said that as much as he enjoyed being on the court with his teammates, it was the moments off the court he’ll miss the most. “​​You don’t remember every play,” he said. “But you remember every joke or fun song that we sing on the bus. I’m going to miss that side of the team.”

Nachamkin and Esposito were named to the All-Tournament team and Murray received a sportsmanship award. Proper of Moravia was the MVP.

On Tuesday (March 19), Virgadamo was awarded the John Martino Service Award by the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association and Nachamkin was named to the association’s All-Star team. Earlier, on March 7, Nachamkin had been named to its scholar-athlete All-Star team.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Jacob Aframian, a 2023 graduate of Marist College with a degree in communication with concentrations in sports and journalism, covers Haldane athletics. He was most recently a contributor to the Wright Way Sports Network and the SportsGrid in Manhattan.

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