Feb 18, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
For the first 16 minutes on Friday night’s Section III Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinal final, West Genesee, fresh off an upset win over Rome Free Academy in the first round, was able to force defending champion Henninger out of its comfort zone.
The no. 10 seed Wildcats, though, ran out of fuel in the end, as the No. 2 Black Knights advanced with a 72-51 win thanks to stellar paint play from senior forward Marquies Young in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t too focused in the beginning,” said Young, who scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. “As the game went on, we came together and played like we know how to play, did what we’re supposed to do.”
Right out of the gate, the Black Knights pressed incessantly, forcing a few early turnovers. Henninger guard Tevin Chisholm hit a buzzer-beating floater in the first to give the Knights a 15-6 advantage heading into the next frame. During the span and for most of the game, though, the Wildcats were able to force the Knights out of the paint with a stifling zone defense, forcing long-range jumpers.
Unfortunately for WG, Henninger was on-point from long distance, nailing 10 3-pointers on the game.
“We did exactly what we set out to do,” Wildcats coach Fred Kent said. “They’re bigger and faster and we didn’t want to get beat down low. But when a team is shooting like that it makes it really hard to win.”
It was a bittersweet loss for the Wildcats (8-11), a team that started the year 5-2 before collapsing for six straight losses. Kent said it was a pleasant late-season turnaround to kill the slump, and that the Wildcats came into Henninger’s home court “expecting” to win.
And it was the definition of a team effort for the Knights, who had four players score in double figures led by Chisholm’s game-high 18. Keith Tyson II and Kavon Delee chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
If you ask Henninger coach Erik Saroney, in his 10th season at the helm, he’ll tell you the offense was stellar, but the lifeblood for Black Knights is and always has been defense.
“Yes, we shot very well,” he said. “But you have to give a lot of credit to West Genesee because they completely took us out of our game for most of it. The fact is that we made shots [Friday], but it was still our defense that won this.”
Kent was on-board.
“It’s not that they press, it’s that they show so many different styles of the press,” Kent said. “The guys couldn’t get into any sort of offensive rhythm because of that.”
It seemed Henninger was going to break the game open early in the second half thanks to the momentum gained by Tyson’s 3-pointer right as the buzzer sounded for halftime, sending the Knights to the break with a 27-20 advantage.
Henninger opened the third on a 10-2 run highlighted by Delee’s seven points as the Knights pulled ahead 37-22.
To the Wildcats’ credit, scrapiness allowed them to hang within shooting distance of Henninger until midway through the fourth. Young took over and the Knights’ athleticism, size and strength prevailed in the end.
Trevor Smith paced the Wildcats with 14 points on two 3-pointers while Scott Sidnam chipped in with 10. Michael Henry and Patrick Patnode added eight apiece.
Henninger was the only city team in Class AA to make it out of the first week. Corcoran, the no. 9 seed, lost to CBA 56-43 in the first round, while Nottingham, the no. 6 seed, handled Watertown 82-39, but lost in the quarterfinals to no. 3 seed Fayetteville-Manlius 66-54.
And Henninger will play F-M in the Class AA semifinals, the winner to get Utica Proctor or Cicero-North Syracuse March 4 in the title game at the Carrier Dome.