We're live at Buffalo State for one of what I think should be the best nights of the week.
Follow along below through the live chat.
DISCLAIMER: I won't be able to answer many questions because it gets pretty busy here, especially late in games, especially now that I've got the iPhone video going. THANKS for your understanding.
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There is a separate post up with VIDEO of Clarence's buzzer-beater and its fans storming the court.
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Here's my story that was in our final edition; a slightly different version was in the Niagara edition and a hindered-by-a-frozen-computer version was in the Western New York edition.
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And now the rest of the postgame show ...
Highlights and interviews from Jamestown's 57-34 defeat of NT:
Rivera hits a fallaway three late in regulation, his sixth of the game.
Coach Ben Drake starts here talking about Jamestown's defense against NT standout Aaron Davis.
NT coach Erik O'Bryan postgame:
"I don't know what it is. I'm not really sure what team that was out there tonight.
"I said at halftime, 'They made switches out, they had
[Fletcher] Larson on the wing, and we had Lucas [Pichette] in the post, and we don't give him
the ball.' I said, 'Yesterday in practice we give him the ball.'
"I thought Lucas, our big fella, showed up tonight. For whatever reason, we just didn't have the movement and the fun style of basketball that we've been accustomed to all year long.
"And let's not take away from how talented they [Jamestown] are. They're very talented. And the thing with Jamestown is you can't get down early. You get down early, and you're forced to play man, and coach Drake does -- and he always has -- they run great sets, and they know who to pick apart. You've got to get up, because they're a set team and they'll take advantage."
My take (and the scorebooks at right) ...
Yes, I picked NT. Swing and a miss. I discussed this during the chat, I believe, and coach O'Bryan mentioned it -- about how NT was not the team it had been late in the season. I only saw them at home, so perhaps that gave me a rosier-than-reality view of the Jacks, but they definitely didn't play like they had been playing. The ball movement wasn't there, the patience wasn't there and the turnovers were everywhere.
Jamestown, on the other hand, was the team we thought they'd be all season. A tremendous job by Rivera and the Red Raiders displayed all of its weaponry -- big guys, quick guys, good defenders, good shooters, deep bench, and, as always, being well coached and running good plays. I suppose I bought into NT having a good thing going, and I suppose I bought into Jamestown not quite being able to put everything together (as has been the case this regular season).
I think people know from my polls that I'm a I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it guy, in that I need to have a team prove its worth for me to vote for it high in a poll or pick it in a game or whatever. Well, Jamestown definitely proved it on Thursday night. They were terrific. Next stop, Saturday against Cinderella.
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Highlights and interviews from Clarence's 67-61 overtime victory over OP:
Some great fourth quarter action as Clarence takes a 46-45 lead with 1:25 left on Tyler Funk's free throws, which are answered by a Dan Nesci drive for OP (47-46 OP), which is answered by a Greg Lucsok drive for Clarence (48-47 Clarence), which is answered by a Troy Nowak jumper while being fouled (49-48 OP) with about 45 seconds left.
Nowak would miss the free throw. Clarence came upcourt and called a timeout with 23.4 seconds left and then ran an inbounds play for Mahoney but his shot was blocked by Robert Kugler, who was then fouled. Kugler made two clutch free throws for a 52-48 lead for OP.
Clarence scored quickly on a drive-and-dish from Stephen Eckert to Tyler Funk, called a timeout with 11.5 seconds left, then fouled Nowak with 10.5 seconds left.
Here is the link to the buzzer-beating three by Funk.
Here's a good stretch of overtime action, including Nick Mahoney's whirling drive to put Clarence up for good at 63-61.
David Hill is all over a turnover and he bursts downcourt for a layup and a 65-61 lead with less than 20 seconds left.
Here is the link to the end of the game.
OP coach Bob Rumschik postgame:
"They made some tough shots tonight. I thought we could have done a better job on our offensive boards, we were kind of one and done at times; and we forced a couple of key shots when we didn't have to. So close, you know, one free throw in the game could make a difference. I'm really proud of these kids, they had a great season. We played a great team today."
My take (and the scorebooks at right) ...
The first half was more than a little sloppy, but the last four minutes of regulation and the overtime were outstanding. There is a point during the best games at Buffalo State where one team hits a big shot and the crowd goes nuts, and then the other team answers with a big shot and the crowd goes nuts again. This game had that big-time. Best drama of the week.
Also mentioned this during the chat, but Clarence is just playing so comfortably, so together. No one gave them a chance to be where they are (I stuck with my poll ballot and went with OP, just for the record), but they just don't care. Funk is a load to handle down low, Hill kept OP's defense occupied all game because he is a threat -- and other players stepped up; Lucsok is a multi-tasker, Mahoney is all over the court and Eckert stood up well to OP's late pressure with some great drives and dishes.
A great story. Also, great support from the Clarence fans, who not only came out in big numbers but were into the game big-time. Every time Nowak touched the ball, they booed, hockey-fan-style -- which is nothing but a huge compliment to a great player in Nowak, who hit plenty of big shots.
I feel bad for Robert Kugler of OP, who had a great block late in regulation and then went 2-for-2 at the line in a clutch spot (I'm pretty sure I've seen him struggle at the line in some games) to put OP up by four late in regulation.
taggedBasketball | Clarence | Jamestown | North Tonawanda | Orchard Park | Video