Overall Class C Final - Silver Creek 67, Middle College 62
On December 9th, I sent in my first small school poll ballot, before having seen either Middle College or Silver Creek play this year, and had the Section VI Class C1 & C2 champs ranked as you see below:
2. Middle College (C1) - Seeking a third trip to Glens Falls in four seasons, they won't face a Class C school until sectionals.
3. Silver Creek (C2) - If you think this is too high for this team, you're wrong and probably haven't seen them play yet. They are better than last year's team, the one that saw a win against Middle College and a trip to Glens Falls get away when a shot in the lane missed at the buzzer.
By the third week of the poll, I had watched both teams play and moved Silver Creek past the Kats on my ballot, saying:
"I moved the Black Knights ahead of Middle College because I believe they are better than last year's team that lost at the buzzer to the Kats, and I don't think this year's Middle College is better than last year's OTC/MEC."
As luck would have it (and hard work on the part of the two schools), the debate and subjective rankings over which school was better was settled on the same court, with the same stakes, as last year. But this time around it didn't come down to a shot by Silver Creek's Zed Williams in the lane at the buzzer. Instead, it came down to an incredible championship game performance by Williams, in which he put the Black Knights on his back and carried them to their first trip to regionals since 2005.
In a game that featured two of WNY's brightest stars in Williams and Middle College's Keir Anderson, neither disappointed, as Anderson scored a game-high 26 points, while Williams led the victors with 25 points. However, it was the all-around play of Williams that controlled the game and set the tone throughout. The Kats only led twice in the game - the first time coming at the 4:13 mark of the second quarter, only to have Williams respond with a go-ahead bucket eight seconds later. Middle College regained the lead again on the following possesion, but the Black Knights ended the half on a 9-4 run led by Williams, to take a 33-29 lead at halftime.
Basketball fans seeing Silver Creek for the first time after having read & heard about them all season, certainly gained a better understanding of why they've been so highly touted by myself. They also found out first hand, that the Black Knights have a style all their own. From the unorthodoxed effectiveness of head coach Rob Genco (not a single substitution all night and he used his first timeout in the game with 5:31 remaining), to the chilled out demeanor of the Black Knights' starting five, fans sitting near me and those who I spoke with following the game were both wildly impressed and highly entertained by the group branded "Chill Showtime" earlier this year. Prior to the start of the Class A final, one fan sitting near me who had watched the Black Knights for the first time, said "I miss watching Silver Creek already. I kind of wish they were coming back out to play in this next game".
From the onset, there was a sense that things would turn out differently for Silver Creek this time around. Williams scored 10 of his 25 points in an opening quarter that saw his squad jump out to leads of 11-3 and 20-8, before moving to the second quarter with a 20-12 advantage. Complacent passing during the first portion of of the second, allowed the Kats to convert steals into points, and make the run they needed. Middle College used a 9-2 run (13-2 including the end of the 1st quarter) to gain the aforementioned brief second quarter lead.
The teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter, but the Black Knights maintained their lead on the scoreboard after it was trimmed by a point, 48-45, heading into the final stanza. An 8-2 spurt to begin the fourth gave Silver Creek a 56-47 lead, with six of those points coming from Williams. Facing season extinction, the Kats turned to Anderson, and the senior answered their call. Anderson poured in six points during an 8-0 Middle College run, with the last three coming on a long 3-pointer, and pulling his team within one, 56-55. But just twelve seconds later, Black Knight's sophomore Brennan White swished a '3' from the corner in response with 4:11 to go, and the game would never get closer than three points the rest of the way. Another sophomore, 6-7 Bill Brooks, threw down a dunk with 1:42 to go, which put his team up six and capped a monster performance for him as well, and made the big man's 16th birthday that much sweeter. Brooks ended the game with 20 points, 21 rebounds, and eight swats.
Overall Class B Final - Olean 62, East 50
The Huskies won their sixth Section VI championship in the last seven seasons and second straight, as the quest for a state championship in Class B continued on Tuesday. Last season's state semifinalists will play either Batavia or Hornell at 5 pm on Saturday at Blue Cross Arena.
Wil Bathurst led the way for Olean with a game-high 27 points. Sam Eckstrom scored 17 points and Nick Schmidt added 10 points for the Huskies. Sean Young and Johnathan Lewis each scored 13 points to lead East, while Percy Bryant scored 11 points.
The Panthers trailed by nine points at halftime, but a 6-0 run to begin the second half made the score 29-26. It was just a four-point game early in the fourth quarter, when Bathurst keyed an 11-0 run for the Huskies by scoring eight of those points, and pushing his team's lead to 51-36 midway through the fourth quarter.
Overall Class A Final - McKinley 64, Amherst 61
It was only fitting that the last high school basketball game played in WNY during the 2013 season would be a thriller, and man was it ever. The Class A crossover game between the Macks and the Tigers was not only an exciting championship contest, it was one, if not the best game played between WNY teams this season. As the old adage goes, it's a shame someone had to lose.
Marcus Morris scored a game-high 28 points, including the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining, to lift McKinley past Amherst and snap the Tigers 19-game winning streak. McKinley will move on to the Far West Regionals, where they will face Aquinas of Aection V at 7 pm on Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena.
The Macks led by eight points at halftime, but an 8-2 run by the Tigers over the first three minutes of the second half made the score 39-37, in favor McKinley. Following a basket by Morris, Amherst embarked on another scoring spurt and rattled off nine straight points to capture a 46-41 lead with under two minutes to play in the third. The Macks responded with a bucket and a charity toss, before Morris sank a long-range bomb to end the third quarter, tying the game at 46 all.
7:46 - Alex Turecki scores inside for the Tigers.....48-46 Amherst
7:23 - Morris sticks another 3-pointer for the Macks.....49-48 McKinley
7:03 - Deonte Bell goes one of two from the free throw line.....50-48 McKinley
6:42 - Steven Reynolds connects on a long baseline shot for the Tigers.....50-50
5:07 - Freshman TC Brown scores for the Tigers.....52-50 Amherst
4:56 - Morris drills his third of the game from downtown.....53-52 McKinley
4:10 - Turecki brings the crowd to its feet with a '3' from the corner.....55-53 Amherst
4:00 - Reyjzon Jordan comes right back with a basket for the Macks.....55-55
3:35 - The Tigers' Johnny Belton cans a trey from straight away.....58-55 Amherst
2:30 - Daequan Warren scores for the Macks.....58-57 Amherst
2:14 - TC Brown puts the Tigers back up by three with another bucket.....60-57 Amherst
1:47 - Morris goes to the line and sinks them both.....60-59 Amherst
1:26 - Steven Reynolds hits a free throw, extending the Tigers lead to two points.....61-59 Amherst
:49 - McKinley's Lovell Smith ties the game up with a crucial basket.....61-61
:18 - Morris penetrates into the lane, pulls up, and lets a soft jumper go---swish.....63-61 McKinley
:04 - Morris hits a free throw to round out the scoring.....64-61 McKinley
Dion Lewis scored a team-high 16 points, while Steven Reynolds, Alex Turecki, and TC Brown all scored 11 points for the Tigers.
Jordan complemented Morris' stellar evening with a 10-point effort.