Onondaga Sure, it’s a new cast for the Westhill boys basketball team, but it’s a familiar mid-March destination - Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Warriors are going back to the state Class B final four after a hard-fought 59-58 victory over Section IV champion Norwich in Saturday night’s Class B regional final at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena.
The outcome was in doubt until the final second, when Kevin Karleski stole Norwich’s inbounds pass and time ran out.
“All year long for us it’s come down to defense,” said Karleski. “We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Of course, Westhill may not have preferred the exact reason it was so close. It nearly squandered a 16-point second-half lead against a tough, experienced Purple Tornado squad that refused to give up.
“It’s human nature that you relax a bit with a lead,” said Warrior head coach Kevin King. “Give them (Norwich) a lot of credit. They gritted it out.”
Though the Warriors were after its third state semifinal berth in four years, it was doing so with a different group of players than the one that made Glens Falls in 2010 and 2011. And it was trying to stop a Norwich side that was eager to atone for losing in this same regional round to Bishop Ludden a year ago.
For the Purple Tornado, the big problem was something previous Westhill opponents knew well - stopping the sophomore duo of Jordan Roland and Tyler Reynolds, which proved tough early as they accounted for 12 of the Warriors’ 14 points in a closely played first quarter.
Just as important was the Warriors’ defense holding Norwich’s top offensive threat, Kyle Edwards (who had 24 points in the Section IV final win over Whitney Point), in check. Edwards had just one 3-pointer in the early stages and picked up a pair of fouls, limiting his effectiveness.