Grover Cleveland and Lackawanna didn't disappoint in their top 5 small school battle as Grover won a thriller, 82-79.
A huge game for Ricky Alejandro, who scored three of his four three-pointers in the fourth quarter and was excellent in the final 2:18 after Chris Holland fouled out. Holland's fifth foul was on a three-pointer by Orlando Santiago, who hit all three to give Lackawanna a 73-72 lead.
I'll have a ton more details and video clips later tonight.
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Sorry for the delay -- I came into the office and wrote up the hoops stuff for tonight.
The game was very entertaining for many reasons. Great action on the court, great momentum swings, great finish. Also, a nice little battle between Lackawanna fans -- including former Steeler LeSean Blackburn (of the 2006 state champions) directly to my right -- and Grover fans woofing back and forth. Some serious woofing, but nothing more. Like I said, very entertaining.
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OK, video time. To start: I hereby apologize to any photographer who I rolled my eyes at when they complained that, "the light is terrible in here."
I now feel their pain. These highlights look like they are sitting in a medical jar or something. Or a pickle jar? A great shade of very-old-newspaper yellow. Your descriptions are welcome. Anyways, let's go to the video:
Here's where Alejandro helped Grover take control of the game -- the clip starts with the last two of three made free throws by Santiago, then the Ricky A. show starts (with some help from his teammates, of course). But it's not every day you see a go-ahead three-pointer, followed by a behind-the-back fast-break pass, and all in the final two minutes.
Lackawanna took a timeout with 1:41 left, trailing, 77-73. Alejandro added two free throws for a 79-73 lead.
The Steelers made it exciting thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Santiago -- he hits a lot of those it seems, and I've just seen this game and the Cleveland Hill squeaker. After two free throws from Gary Green, Santiago gets the ball off a steal and a scramble gets the Lackawanna fans (including Blackburn) fired up.
The teams went back and forth on the free throw line for the next few points. Grover held a 81-79 lead when Kenny Pringle went to the line. He hit the first for the 82-79 lead. The next video starts with his second free throw and ends with the end of the game.
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Some reaction from Grover:
And some good old-fashioned quotes from Lackawanna coach Tim Foley:
"This was a gauge for us -- not to slight anyone in our league, but this is the best team we played this season and a game where we see where we can be. We had two shots at end to tie it and both rimmed out.
"Class B-1 is probably the toughest bracket in the section. Four of the top five teams in the small school poll are in B-1: Olean, Grover, Lackawanna and Depew
"I told the kids to put this in their memory bank. They played butts off. I tell them to think big picture, and the big thing for us is the sectionals. If we take care of things in our division, this can be a springboard for how well we can play."
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A little rewind here:
Holland with a block on one end and a score on the other for a 72-68 Grover lead.
Holland on a nice third-quarter transition drive.
The teams go back and forth in the second quarter.
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Very impressive home win for North Tonawanda over a Maryvale team that is always a tough out. Nice nonleague matchup there.
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If you were at the game or saw another one, feel free to file a report right here.
taggedBasketball | Grover Cleveland | Lackawanna | Video