Youth hoops team wins tournament title

The Niskayuna Youth Basketball Association’s sixth-grade squad is shown after winning its postseason tournament in the Capital District Youth Basketball League. Shown, first row, from left, are Leo O’Brien and Shae O’Brien; Tyler Camelo is in the second row; in the third row, from left, are Jack Castle, Nick Reffelt, Derek Liu, Luke Sheeran, Josh Tso, Evan Kessler, Nico Popeleski, and Craig Woolley; and, in the fourth row, are coaches Tim O’Brien and Mark Popeleski. (Photo submitted)The Niskayuna Youth Basketball Association’s sixth-grade squad is shown after winning its postseason tournament in the Capital District Youth Basketball League. Shown, first row, from left, are Leo O’Brien and Shae O’Brien; Tyler Camelo is in the second row; in the third row, from left, are Jack Castle, Nick Reffelt, Derek Liu, Luke Sheeran, Josh Tso, Evan Kessler, Nico Popeleski, and Craig Woolley; and, in the fourth row, are coaches Tim O’Brien and Mark Popeleski. (Photo submitted)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Youth Basketball Association’s sixth-grade squad won its postseason tournament in the Capital District Youth Basketball League, with heroics from Luke Sheeran saving the day.

In the March 1 championship game of the team’s bracket, Sheeran scored a basket and a foul shot with 7.1 seconds to play — and followed that play with a blocked shot at the buzzer to preserve Niskayuna’s 48-47 win against Scotia.

Coach Tim O’Brien said his club had struggled during the regular season with its free-throw shooting and had spent half the practice before the postseason tournament taking extra foul shots.

“So, it was ironic it came down to that,” he said.

Besides his late-game plays, Sheeran led the team in scoring in the title game with 17 points while Tyler Camelo added 10. To make it to the championship game, Niskayuna had scored a 32-18 victory against Ballston Spa.

“We’d lost to both these teams a month ago, so the boys had some motivation,” said O’Brien, whose team received eight points from Camelo and six from Nico Popeleski against Ballston Spa.

Also playing for the Niskayuna sixth-grade team were Jack Castle, Evan Kessler, Derek Liu, Leo O’Brien, Shae O’Brien, Nick Reffelt, Josh Tso and Craig Woolley. Mark Popeleski coaches the team with Tim O’Brien.

In other postseason action for the Niskayuna Youth Basketball Association:

  • The eighth-grade squad finished in second place in its postseason bracket, topping Guilderland, 46-38, before falling to Schalmont, 46-40. George Tsakalakos had 13 points against Guilderland to lead Niskayuna, while Nick Benton had 20 against Schalmont.
  • The seventh-grade team lost to Schenectady in its first playoff game, 62-37, before topping East Greenbush with a 61-39 advantage. Chris Erickson led Niskayuna in its loss with eight points, while Ethan St. Lucia had 11 in the win.
  • Jack Allen and Darian Parker each had 13 points in the Niskayuna fifth-grade team’s consolation game 39-37 win against Scotia. Meanwhile, Parker had a team-high nine points in the club’s 33-25 loss to South Colonie.
  • For the fourth-grade Niskayuna squad, Sam Booth had eight points to lead a 47-19 romp against Mohonasen in a consolation game. That win followed a 23-17 loss to Scotia in which Greyson Vorgang had six points for Niskayuna.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.