I drove past Sweet Home earlier today and their electronic sign out front reads "Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
Tonight the school is holding a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser during a girls-boys doubleheader -- the Williamsville East girls visit at 6 p.m., the boys' game that follows at around 7:30 p.m. is Chapter Two of the Sweet Home-Williamsville South battle, the first of which was won by host South last week.
The doubleheader honors "Shell Strong," the initiative to support Jacob Shell, the 9-year-old son of Burnt Hills football coach Matt Shell (Sweet Home has beaten the Albany-area school in the last two state championship football games).
I'll be hitting the road a little later on and will stop by Lafayette at East before heading to Sweet Home. Updates to come.
6:15 p.m. Here at East High and the hosts are dominating Lafayette, 47-23.
I'm off to Sweet Home.
7:08 p.m. I'm set up very nicely at a courtside table and I'll have updates throughout the night.
They have already sold out of the Shell Strong orange T-shirts, complete with a Superman 'S' on the front. I am super-bummed I missed out on getting one of those shirts. Why orange? It's Jacob's favorite color.
It's a great scene. Fans of both teams are wearing the shirts, adults and kids, even the Williamsville South players just walked by in them. Just a great night here.
Everyone walking in gets a special edition roster sheet which has Jacob's story and some pictures of him on one side. The sheets are orange, of course.
There is also a huge banner that people are being encouraged to sign. It reads, "From our Sweet Home to yours." Great stuff.
At the end of the third quarter of the girls game, Williamsville East leads Sweet Home, 49-28. There is a good crowd here for the girls game and the parking lot is jammed already. The place should be packed for the boys game.
7:41 p.m. I just did my attempt at introducing a video that will be online later tonighthan.
7:47 p.m. We're about to start. An extremely fine National Anthem by members of the Sweet Home orchestra.
7:57 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with 3:32 left in the first quarter and we're tied at 13-13. Nice job by Sweet Home to withstand an attack which included four straight three-pointers to start the game for South, which was up, 12-6, at one point.
8:09 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Sweet Home leads South, 26-20.
8:21 p.m. With 3:58 left in the second quarter, Sweet Home leads, 32-27.
8:23 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 2:36 left in the second quarter. A Keron Briggs layup off a wild back-and-forth gave the Panthers a 34-27 lead.
Some tremendous action here, great environment, two top-notch teams going at it. A lot going on here trying to post stuff and keep track of the game. One thing worth noting -- D.J. Nettles is not in uniform.
8:30 p.m. We are at halftime and Sweet Home has a 39-38 lead. Joe Licata has 15 points (all on three-pointers) while Briggs has 13. Some great momentum bursts going back and forth -- Sweet Home had a 39-33 lead with about two minutes left in the quarter. Mark Coppola has been doing his usual outstanding orchestration.
8:48 p.m. With 4:01 left in the third quarter, Sweet Home has a 47-42 lead.
8:51 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with South having taken a 49-47 lead with 2:37 left in the third. Coppola just scored on what centercourt described as a tough-as-nails left-handed drive high off the glass. Nice hoop, nice description.
8:57 p.m. Check out the coaching going on here as the third quarter winds down.
At the end of the third, South leads Sweet Home, 52-51.
9:02 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with Sweet Home up, 57-56, with 5:01 left in the game. Just a tremendous couple of minutes there which you'll see later on video.
And here they are:
9:06 p.m. A timeout awarded to South after a scramble with South up, 58-57. South had a great basket out of the previous timeout (video below). There is 4:18 left.
9:11 p.m. A great little story here about sophomore Rashaun Crule, a junior varsity call-up for Sweet Home.
Denzel Kirkland went down with an injury and had to be taken off the floor for a few plays. He was fouled on the play in which he got hurt, so he was unable to hit the free throws.
Coach Paul Shintzius turns to the scorer's table where his JV coach is keeping the Sweet Home scorebook. "Can your guy hit these free throws?!" Schintz hurriedly asks. The JV coach says yes.
In walks Crule with 3:38 left in the game and Sweet Home down by three (60-57). If fans are looking over the roster they picked up on the way in, his name and number (No. 20) aren't even on it.
Let's go to the video clip:
Sweet Home trails by one (60-59). Nice job on the varsity, Mr. Crule.
Out of the timeout, South missed its next shot, Sweet Home missed in transition and South came back with a fast-break layup by Stasiak to go up, 62-59.
9:15 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 1:12 left in the game and South with a 65-59 lead. Erik Hansen just took the ball strong for a drive that put the Billies up by six. Hansen had a free throw for South's previous point.
9:20 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville South 65, Sweet Home 61.
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9:56 p.m. Whew. We've written a first-edition story for the paper, did a short video stand-up, got the box score in, talked to South coach Al Monaco and kept our extension cord plugged in.
Just a tremendous night here. The atmosphere was outstanding, the way it should be at all games. South made some key plays down the stretch to break away from such a close game.
I'll have more video clips while reporter Lauren Mariacher (who is editing her video on a laptop on the gym floor -- at least I have a seat :-) ) will have a video package up and running as soon as possible.
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10:59 p.m. It was great to have Jacob participate in the comments section below.
I need to pass along a handwritten note to Jacob that was left on the press table for me. It was obviously written by someone who follows the poignant diary kept by his mother, Kim.
"Please tell Jacob we are happy that he and Giraffey are reunited. Sweet Home hopes that we can bring a smile to him today. GO Jacob. be strong. Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
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Not too many surprises -- maybe some surprising margins of victory. Some authoritative victories by Nichols, East, Jamestown, Olean and Southwestern. Some closer-than-expected wins for Niagara Falls and Grand Island.
Check out more in the roundup.
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If you were at a game tonight, or if you want to send wishes Jacob's way -- I've been told his family will be checking the blog tonight -- just type away in the comments section below.
taggedBasketball | East High | Lafayette | Sweet Home | Williamsville East | Williamsville South