Hello from Buffalo State and the second day of the best week of the high school sports year.
After a few minutes for a program upgrade, we're online for another tripleheader: the 5:30 B-2 semifinal between Niagara-Orleans rivals Wilson and Akron and two A-2 semifinals. East meets fellow Yale Cup-per Lafayette in the first game at 7 p.m. with Maryvale and ECIC III neighbor Cheektowaga getting together at 8:30.
East beat Lafayette in the regular season while Wilson and Maryvale both swept the season series from tonight's opponents, but wacky things have been known to happen at Buffalo State.
That being said, I'm going with Wilson in the first game.
5:31 p.m. This is when the game is supposed to be a minute in of real time. But we're two minutes in, with Wilson calling a timeout after Akron has taken a quick 6-0 lead with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
5:35 p.m. Akron coach Justin Gerstung calls a timeout with 3:41 left in the first quarter holding an 8-6 lead -- Brennan Moxham has swished two three-pointers for Wilson.
5:43 p.m. We are at the end of the first quarter and Akron leads Wilson, 11-8. Trevor Short has nine of Akron's 11 points.
5:47 p.m. Wilson coach Brett Sippel calls a timeout with 5:49 left in the second quarter and Akron having taken a 20-11 lead on a fast-break basket by Alec Short. Akron is fired up in its huddle. Wilson started slow against City Honors so maybe this is just how they roll.
5:51 p.m. N-O coaches like using their first-half timeouts. Akron gets one ahead, 22-15, with 3:34 left in the second quarter. I think maybe Gerstung used it just to protest a call he wanted on Alec Short fast-break attempt. I'll side with coach on this one but it's all part of the game.
5:58 p.m. We are at halftime and Akron leads Wilson, 27-22.
6:16 p.m. Akron calls a timeout with 4:04 left in the third quarter with a 33-26 lead. Trevor Short continues to score for the Tigers, often just too much to handle on drives to the basket and he's been nailing some fadeaway jumpers.
6:23 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Akron continues to lead Wilson, 37-33. Moxham had a late three-pointer to answer one by Akron's Seth Goodier.
6:27 p.m. Wilson calls a timeout with 7:13 left and Akron's lead down to 37-35. Ethan Baker with a putback of a missed free throw opened the scoring. Trevor Short just got fouled hard by Wilson's Nate Meier and the officials do some talking to both players.
6:33 p.m. After a nice big rebound by Alec Short, Akron brings the ball upcourt and calls a timeout with 4:26 left and a 42-38 lead over Wilson. Nice back and forth going on between the school's fans, and I'm pretty sure Akron's outnumber WIlson's, student-section-wise.
6:36 p.m. Wilson calls a timeout with 2:53 left and the Akron lead now at 47-39. BIG three-pointer from Jon Rink for Akron as the Wilson defense sagged towards Trevor Short in the post. On the other end, Trevor Short jumped out to block a three attempt by Baker.
6:39 p.m. Timeout by Akron with 2:24 left and a 47-41 lead. Baker just scored inside and Wilson turned up the pressure on the inbounds.
6:43 p.m. Wilson makes its move to cut it to 47-46, but Alec Short nails a three-pointer from the left corner to give Akron a 50-46 lead. Wilson brings it up and calls a timeout with 36.5 seconds left.
(Sorry about the poor view of Alec Short's shot, on which coach Gerstung ran a nice screen on me).
6:45 p.m. Wilson cuts it to 50-48 on a Collin Okoniewski putback and Trevor Short is fouled with 18 seconds left and Akron leading, 50-48. Timeout, Wilson.
Short hit one free throw, Moxham missed a decent look from the top of the key for three; Alec Short was fouled with 5.7 seconds left and Baker's desperation three missed.
And that's why they play the games. Back for the A-2 semifinals in a bit. Still sticking with my poll for the next two games.
7:09 p.m. Back in our press row saddle just in time for tip-off of East-Lafayette.
7:23 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, East has a 16-10 lead on Lafayette. The Panthers are looking good with Domonique Jackson back on the floor. His passing as is impressive as anything else -- the 6-4 senior has already had some nice setups.
7:29 p.m. Lafayette calls a timeout with 5:24 left in the second quarter. East leads, 19-13. I only saw the Mighty Violets briefly in a game at East, but they have some serious height and length in 6-5 senior Darius West and 6-5 junior Davone Ferguson, who has already put in a very nice looking fast-break dribble drive finish.
7:31 p.m. East's turn to take a timeout with its lead now 19-14 with 5:02 left in the second.
7:36 p.m. Lafayette needed a timeout and has one witih 1:49 left in the second with East now up, 30-21. Jackson just put on one of the Moves Of The Week right in front of me. He took on a close-guarding defender just inside midcourt, crossed him over so bad he fell over, then calmly stepped to the three-point line and swished a three. Whoa.
7:47 p.m. Sorry about a semi-delayed halftime update. Had to run to the car to get a very valuable cord to power the iPhone. I'd be dead without it. Thanks much to 8-year-old Wyatt Walker, one of Section VI's administrators here, for manning the door after my full-out sprint to the parking lot across Grant. Booyah.
At halftime, East leads Lafayette, 39-24. Deon Robinson hit a free throw with 3.4 seconds left after an intentional foul (he was dragged down after a steal in the open court), then he hit a buzzer-beating fling for a three-pointer and a great finish to the half for the Panthers.
7:56 p.m. Lafayette coach Karl Maggiore calls a timeout with 4:43 left in the third quarter and East now up, 44-26. The Panthers are just too much -- not just too athletic but too good defensively too unselfish offensively. They had a fast-break moments ago which went Deon Robinson to Tremmell Fisher to Robinson to Dale Gray for the basket. Almost too much passing.
8:03 p.m. Lafayette calls another timeout with 2:14 left in the third and East leading, 54-33. Jackson had a three-point play after a whirling drive through the lane, and Robinson had a layup after he slapped the ball away for a steal.
8:05 p.m. East coach Starling Bryant with a timeout with 1:05 left in the third leading, 54-36.
8:08 p.m. We are at the end of the third quarter and East leads Lafayette, 54-38. The Violets had a great finish to the quarter as West took a pass on a fast break and -- in traffic -- put down a serious two-handed jam. Very impressive.
8:27 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 68, Lafayette 48.
Interviews and then some writing while I watch the Maryvale-Cheektowaga game.
8:51 p.m. Great start for Maryvale, which leads, 8-0, with 5:54 left in the first quarter, prompting a Cheektowaga timeout by first-year coach Pat Cullinan.
9:03 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Maryvale leads Cheektowaga, 15-10. Nice job by the Warriors to keep their heads in it with some active defense. The Flyers hit three threes in the first, including two by senior Matt Wendling.
9:12 p.m. Maryvale coach Mark Kensy calls a timeout with 4:43 left in the second quarter and holding a 17-13 lead as Cheektowaga has played some solid defense and is getting some offense going inside and on the boards.
9:36 p.m. Sorry. Second half has started. Maryvale led, 26-19, at halftime. I'm doing a lot of writing right now.
9:51 p.m. Maryvale 40, Cheektowaga 33 after the third quarter.
10:04 p.m. Story is done for first edition. Jeesh. Right on time. Cheektowaga just scored on a fast break to cut Maryvale's lead to 46-43 with 2:23 left. The lead had been up to 10 (43-33).
10:09 p.m. Wow. Cheektowaga just had a couple of chances to tie the game but the ball wouldn't go down. Maryvale leads, 46-44, with 24 seconds left and has called a timeout. Maryvale inbounding under its own basket.
(Note to self: Be sure to move the phone while you're watching these big plays -- although the perspective on the first jumper is pretty neat since all you can see are players looking at the ball in mid-air. Sorry about that.)
10:12 p.m. A foul by Cheektowaga, and another timeout by Maryvale before it inbounds the ball with 19.7 seconds left. Maryvale inbounding at the sideline in its backcourt, right in front of me.
10:15 p.m. A foul by Cheektowaga, one free throw made, one free throw missed for Maryvale's Bryce Shepard, and a fast-break basket by the Warriors. Maryvale leads, 47-46, with nine seconds left.
10:17 p.m. Foul Cheektowaga, one free throw made by Alex Wendling, Cheektowaga takes a timeout. There are 6.3 seconds left, Maryvale is up two (48-46) and may be up three after the second free throw.
Clutch job by Wendling. The way Cheektowaga was getting to the basket, a three-point game was a whole lot different than a two-point game.
We have a FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 49, Cheektowaga 46.
12:10 p.m. I love basketball. I love writing. I love the best week of the high school sports year.
But I think I hate sectional tripleheader nights. OK. Got that out of my system. So much action, so little time, so little space. I'll be adding some additional notes and quotes, the scorebooks and some videos here. If you're still out there now, they'll be on here when you wake up.
* * *
Some thoughts on the evening ...
* Seeing Akron here tonight (after not seeing them during the regular season), I'm wondering where this team was all year. I guess the three-pointers from five different Wilson players was a difference, one that was cited by both coaches. Trevor Short, who Sippel called the best player in the N-O, was outstanding. It sure had to help playing at Buffalo State considering the success the Tigers had here last year. They sure looked comfortable while Wilson may have felt the pressure of living up to its ranking and beating Akron three times. Alec Short didn't have to hit as many threes as he did last year (he had a ton -- I've got to check the records) -- but the one he did hit was super clutch.
Akron and Cleveland Hill makes for a great matchup, I think. Who needs ranked teams? Both teams played extremely well and deserve the championship game. They both also brought a lot of fans so the energy level should be good in the first game of Saturday's quintuple-header. Tip-off is at noon.
* Game Two got out of hand because East is just too good. Lafayette knew this after losing to the Panthers in the regular season, and tonight's Panthers were back playing like the Panthers that Lafayette lost to in the first week of February. After that, East lost Domonique Jackson and some other players to academic suspensions and things became quite uncertain. The way East is playing they are going to be super-tough to beat.
There was a lot of moaning that the game wasn't fun to watch, but I starred plenty of plays in my notebook. Jackson, as I wrote, is an outstanding player because of his well-rounded play, including unselfishness and defense (several blocks). Deon Robinson had a clean, standing-still steal of a full-speed Lafayette player which turned into a fast break and a behind-the-back pass to Jackson for a finish. The Jackson killer crossover I wrote about already as well as the super-unselfish fast break by the Panthers and the Lafayette dunk.
I will admit that the blowout helped me get some work done, so maybe because I had other stuff to do it averted me from what obviously wasn't a close second half.
* Maryvale led the entire game against Cheektowaga, with the closest the Warriors getting the two-point deficit in the final minute. Warriors could never get over the hump thanks in large part to the shotmaking of Shepherd. Impressive showing from Cheektowaga and understandable how they were able to beat Amherst. Maryvale definitely makes you beat them. They just do not make mistakes.
taggedAkron | Basketball | Cheektowaga | East High | Lafayette | Maryvale | Wilson