Westhill beaten by Babylon rally in state semifinals

Down 15, Long Island champs oust Warriors in Glens Falls

Only the work of the Panthers' star guard, Fernando Vazquez, kept it within range as he had 15 points in the first half, including a coast-to-coast basket to close the second period that gave the Long Island champions some hope that it could catch up.

Sure enough, early in the third quarter Vazquez stayed hot, his free throws and 3-pointer shrinking the Warriors' lead to 39-32 and forcing Westhill head coach Kevin King to take a time-out.

Again, like so many previous post-season games, the Warriors allowed a big lead to nearly vanish before regrouping late in the period with a pivotal 3-pointer from Roland that allowed it to go to the final period clinging to a 46-42 lead.

Even that couldn't stop Vazquez, though. With Babylon trailing 48-44, he drained a 3-pointer, and after the Panthers moved in front for the first time at 49-48, Vazquez connected again from beyond the arc, putting his total at 33 points.

Stunned to find itself trailing, Westhill could not regroup enough. It was still within three, 56-53, thanks to Kevin Karleski's three-point play midway through the fourth quarter, but the Panthers put up a brief 6-0 run and got clear, making enough free throws in the homestretch to seal it.

Roland finished with 23 points, while Reynolds symbolized the Warriors' late struggles, managing just two points after the break to finish with 17.

Babylon would go on to make another big second-half comeback in Saturday night's state Class B championship game against Watervliet (Section II), only to fall in overtime 72-60 to the Cannoneers, who had lost to Bishop Ludden by a single point in the 2012 state final.

Westhill will expect to get back to Glens Falls in 2013-14, especially since three of the starters - Roland, Reynolds and Jeff Lobello - are sophomores, as is Dan O'Connell, and the junior class includes defensive specialist William Billy. Just three seniors graduate, but that includes starters Karleski and Dan Gratien.

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