Feb 24, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Kevin King faced a decision early in the fourth quarter as the Westhill boys basketball team he coaches clung to a slim lead against Clinton in Sunday’s Section III Class B semifinal at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena.
Star sophomore Jordan Roland was on the bench with four fouls, and without him Westhill was able to stay in front of the opposing Warriors, but not get away.
So Roland went in – and he promptly scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, pushing Westhill into a more comfortable position as it prevailed over Clinton 62-49.
This gives Westhill a chance at its third Class B sectional title in four years as it will face no. 4 seed Skaneateles next Sunday at the Carrier Dome. The Lakers rallied past top seed South Jefferson 58-52 in overtime in the other semifinal.
Playing at a fast pace, Westhill intended to get away from Clinton early. Adam Reynolds’ eight points keyed a 15-2 run to close the first quarter, and early in the second period Westhill possessed a 28-13 lead.
Clinton, the no. 3 seed, did not panic. Instead, it made four 3-pointers as part of a 17-5 charge to end the half and close within 33-30 as the two sides went to the break. Further hurting Westhill was a back injury that would keep Reynolds out for the second half.
Roland, who had 15 points, picked up his third and fourth fouls in the third quarter and went to the bench. Without him, Westhill stayed out in front thanks to Kevin Karleski, who earned eight of his 11 points during that frame as the margin went to 47-40.
Quickly, Clinton closed to 47-45 early in the final period, precipitating Roland’s return. Immediately, he sank a long jumper from the corner, and followed it up with another basket and two free throws as part of a decisive 10-0 run.
Meanwhile, Westhill’s vaunted defense, uneven for most of the game, toughened up at the right time, holding Clinton without a point for more than four minutes in that fourth quarter.
“We were more focused on team defense,” said Karleski. “We ran the floor well, and wore them (Clinton) down.”
Aside from Roland and Karleski, Jeff Lobello provided a steady offensive presence, finishing with 13 points. Clinton’s Malaquias Canery led his side with 21 points as Mike Hayduk added 12 points.
Westhill now gets a Skaneateles side vastly improved from the side whose 0-3 start included a 58-43 defeat to the Warriors on Dec. 5. A balanced attack, featuring Chris Knupp, Austin Gardner, Bobby Leslie, Alex Brownlee and Collin Jones, gives opponents plenty to think about, aside from the fact that they’re playing on the big stage of the Carrier Dome.
“They’ll be nervous,” said King. “But it’s better than not playing.”