Mar 19, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A 13-year quest for the Westhill boys basketball team to earn the second state Class B championship in the program’s history is one win from being fulfilled.
The Warriors went to Glens Falls Civic Center Friday night and used torrid shooting in the first half and a timely run in the fourth quarter to beat Batavia 69-53 in the state Class B semifinal round.
With that victory, Westhill advances to Saturday night’s championship game against Burke Catholic, from Goshen, who beat Potsdam 70-59 in the other semifinal.
The Warriors’ only state title came in 1997, but even that group, coached by Todd Widrick, rarely, if ever, had a shooting streak similar to what Kevin King’s current Westhill team enjoyed against Batavia.
From a basketball standpoint, the Blue Devils, from Section V, carried more experience at this level, since it reached the state semifinals in Class A in 2009. Batavia, like Westhill, prided itself on air-tight defense, rarely allowing more than 50 points in any game all season.
But the Warriors would assume total command the moment the game tipped off. Nathan Nigolian’s 3-pointer opened the scoring – and Westhill would not trail for one second all night.
The first half turned into a Westhill shooting clinic. By the time it was done, the Warriors had made 17 of its 22 field-goal attempts, an astonishing 77.2 percent clip. That included six of 10 3-point shots and nine of 10 regular shots.
Amid the barrage, Westhill’s two leading scorers, Mike McMullen and Dan Ross, both flourished. McMullen had 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Ross had 10 points.
It was a steal and lay-up by Ross just before the first quarter ended that made it 18-10 and ignited a 12-0 outburst that went deep into the second period. Nigolian and Ross both connected beyond the arc, too, as the margin grew as much as 20 before Westhill went to the break ahead 40-22.
Batavia would provide a brief scare in the third quarter, taking just four minutes to cut the margin to 45-35, with a lot of time to make up the rest of the deficit.
Free throws from Ross and Tom Fisher stemmed that run, though, and early in the fourth quarter Westhill used a 15-2 outburst to increase its lead to 60-37 and put the game away.
Ross finished with 19 points and eight rebounds as McMullen got 17 points, Nigolian picked up 11 points and Fisher 10 points. Nigolian and Fisher had six rebounds apiece as Dan Karleski (nine points) nearly hit double figures, too. Batavia’s Andrew Hoy led both sides with 24 points. Though it cooled off from its early tear, Westhill still shot nearly 62 percent (26-for-42) for the night.
Now the Warriors meet Burke Catholic. The Eagles entered the state final sitting atop the state Class B rankings, then fell behind Potsdam before using a 16-2 run in the third quarter to pull ahead of the Sandstoners for good. Forwards Jeff Cochi (19 points) and Brendan Miller (16 points) led the comeback.