Rarely have I seen a high school game change as quickly as Williamsville South's win tonight did against Riverside.
It was a six-point game at halftime, 27-21, before a 14-0 Billies' spurt to start the third quarter made it 41-21. Just like that, South was getting set for the semifinals in A-1.
Here's some of the play-by-play, starting in the first quarter, from my notebook that didn't make the game story.
Isaiah Jefferson started things out with a bang for the Frontiers, getting a steal and a dunk for the first two points of the game.
Mark Coppola made the first of several hustle plays on the evening, racing back to stop Jefferson from getting another uncontested dunk by knocking it from his hands. Coppola looked like Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett.
Riverside's aggressive defensive style hurt them early. The Frontiers picked up their seventh team foul, sending Williamsville South to the foul line, with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
The pace slowed for both teams in the second quarter, as the scoring was just 9-7 in favor of the Billies. Riverside in particular missed some shots I'm sure they'd love to have back. Coach Ron Killinger even said so after the game.
"Turnovers and missed inside shots killed us," he said.
Turnovers were indeed the key that started the Billies' deciding run in the third quarter. South shocked the Frontiers, and everyone in the gym, with its team speed during the run. Whether it was a missed shot or turnover, Phil Stasiak was out running for the Billies. He had a game-high 26.
Killinger didn't lose his sense of humor during South's run. After using his third timeout in just 2:28 of game time, he said to the scorekeepers "that's more than I've used all season."
Riverside's players, understandably so, looked like they were trying to do too much after they got down big. Several times, there were open Frontiers on the break, but the extra pass wasn't made.
South used a terrific spread offense in the fourth quarter to kill the clock and prevent any chance of a Riverside comeback.
Some random thoughts:
* Coppola can flat-out play. He had 11 asssists and showed a willingness to take the contact that comes with driving to the basket. That's not always easy to do, especially coming off a concussion.
* Coppola's presence made the Frontiers change their entire defensive gameplan. Instead of using a full-court press like normal, Riverside went with a half-court man-to-man. Coppola's penetration, though, created plenty of open looks for his teammates.
* It was clear that South was not intimidated playing a Yale Cup school. Coach Al Monaco said an earlier win over Hutch-Tech and the fact the Billies played Nichols to within two points gave them plenty of confidence.
So if you were there, what was your take on the game? And who do you like when the Billies meet Grand Island in the semifinals Wednesday?
--- Jay Skurski