SYRACUSE When West Genesee boys basketball head coach Fred Kent pulled his starters off the court, less than one minute remaining in the Wildcats’ 67-54 Class AA semifinal loss to Henninger Saturday night at Le Moyne College.
It was the last time a promising group of seniors would walk off the court in the blue and gold. And Kent had a simple message for those players.
"Thank you. That's basically what we talked about was just thank you," he said. There were seven seniors tonight, good kids, (will) miss them (and) can't replace them.”
Before the semifinal loss, the Wildcats finished an 11-9 season on a high note.
“The highlight for me was the last two weeks we became a better practice team,” Kent said. “We were growing, we were there. We were having good practices, good camaraderie.
"We were thinking we were going to play next Sunday in the [Carrier] Dome. I wasn't prepared to give these guys the goodbye speech.”
Having taken the Black Knights to the wire in two regular-season meetings, including a 62-59 overtime loss early in January, the Wildcats came in to the semifinal hoping the third time would be different.
But Henninger’s outside shooting was too much for the no. 6 seed Wildcats. Despite sporting a lineup of two front-court giants in 6-foot-5 Ahmad McKinney and 6-foot-6 Marquane Silvers, the Black Knights worked from the outside in.
“Henninger is very good down low,” Kent said, “but to be honest with you I thought we did a good job on Silvers and McKinney. We were really worried about them.”
Guards Keith Tyson II and Frank Vigliotti hit five 3-pointers apiece, two each in the first quarter, to spread the floor early and give the no. 2 seed a 20-16 lead.
“Honestly, Tyson stepped up big time and hit some perimeter shots,” Kent said. “We had to extend it a little bit and he still made plays, and Vigliotti did too.”