Baldwinsville Tim Solomon's five years of hard work, ups and downs, breakthroughs and setbacks in bringing the Baldwinsville boys basketball program into prominence has led to a long-awaited appearance in this winter's Section III Class AA playoffs - and the Bees were not about to waste that newfound opportunity.
Even with a nervous start and a determined opponent in Corcoran, the no. 7 seed Bees fed off the loud energy of its home crowd, stayed cool down the stretch and pulled out a 52-46 victory over the no. 10 seed Cougars in Friday night's opening round of the sectional tournament.
Just to get into the playoffs, B'ville, who started 4-8, had to win five of its last six games. It also had to beat Corcoran 54-51, avenging a defeat to the Cougars by that exact same score on Dec. 17, just to get that chance to play at home.
Yet that's what the Bees enjoyed as a loud crowd, spurred on by B'ville's large and talented Pep Band, prepared for tip-off- and then watched B'ville go nearly five minutes without scoring a point as Corcoran jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
Solomon said his players were tight and nervous, and played that way. But after calling an early time-out, B'ville got on the board with Devyn McLeod's basket with 3:11 left in the first quarter, and started to settle down.
Still, Corcoran led the entire first half, responding well when B'ville tried to rush at them in the second quarter. Worse yet for the Bees, Ben DiOrio, the team's dependable junior guard, went to the bench with two early fouls.
DiOrio not return for the rest of the half, But the Bees hung in there and only trailed, 26-20, at halftime, and promptly erased that deficit early in the third quarter when DiOrio returned.