Feb 16, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even though it was a perfect 18-0 and atop the state rankings, the Westhill boys basketball team did not get a respite or a first-round bye for the Section III Class B playoffs.
Instead, the Warriors, in a 16-team bracket, had to face the no. 16 seed, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, in Saturday’s opening round. Perhaps unhappy that it had to go to work, Westhill took out that anger on the Red Devils and cruised, 87-46, to its 19th win in a row.
Pushing the tempo, the Warriors quickly gained a 22-11 lead on VVS in the first quarter, but didn’t stop there, continuing to run and score at will and stretching its margin to 46-22 by halftime.
Once Westhill had a 74-36 lead going to the fourth quarter, the starters rested. Jordan Roland still managed 22 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals, while Tyler Reynolds got a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Ryan Roland, like his older brother, hit five 3-pointers to account for all of his 15 points, with Brian Daily stepping up to earn 12 points. Dan O’Connell got eight points as Jeff Lobello and Chase Gedney had six points apiece.
Later that night, Marcellus, the no. 9 seed, had a chance to play Westhill in the quarterfinals if it got past no. 8 seed Syracuse Academy of Science, but could not pull it off, paying the price for a slow start and taking a 70-59 defeat to the Atoms.
Glad to return to the playoffs after missing out in 2013, the Mustangs faced an SAS side with which it split a pair of regular-season meetings. But the most recent encounter was an 85-63 loss on Feb. 3 and, less than two weeks later, Marcellus could not turn that result around.
What happened in the first quarter was important, as the Mustangs’ defense was unable to stop much of what SAS tried, falling behind 22-12. Though it cut the deficit to 36-32 by halftime, Marcellus saw the Atoms reclaim a double-digit margin by outscoring the visitors 16-9 in the third quarter.
Wyatt Stehle, with 24 points, and Jordan Bandera, with 16 points, would help Marcellus battle to the end, as Mike Hastings added 10 points and Mike Dillon six points. Just five different Mustangs scored points, though, while SAS had eight players earn field goals as Jayson Brower and Jesse Murry led the Atoms with 15 points apiece and Anton Kelly added 10 points.
Before that, the Mustangs clinched a winning record last Tuesday night, coming from behind to earn a 60-51 victory over Phoenix, a team that beat Marcellus 53-52 back on Jan. 10.
Looking for payback on Senior Night, the Mustangs did not start well, trailing 18-11 after one period. It would spend the game’s middle stages chipping away at that deficit, but still was down by one, 41-40, with one quarter left.
When it mattered, though, Marcellus took over, going in front and hanging on behind solid free-throw shooting from Jordan Bandera, who earned six of his 23 points at the foul line. Wyatt Stehle added 15 points as Mike Hastings managed eight points and Cole Walsh contributed seven points.
Jordan-Elbridge, who missed the sectional playoffs, still closed its 5-13 season on a good note when, like Marcellus, it got some revenge in a 55-50 win over Skaneateles.
Though the Eagles were 4-13 and out of playoff contention, it still wanted one more good memory before the off-season, and started to earn it when it hit lots of shots in the first quarter and roared out to an 18-6 lead.
Skaneateles, who had beaten J-E 60-44 earlier this season, slowly climbed back as the game hit its middle stages, and were only down by one, 39-38, going into the fourth quarter.
But the Eagles didn’t flinch, hanging on as Kyle Matousek, constantly fouled in the final minutes, hit a series of clutch free throws. Matousek finished with 26 points, 14 of them coming from successful foul shots, as Zach Wagner added 12 points, Ryan Cooper eight points and Jake Melfi six points. Pete Knupp, with 15 points, and Bobby Leslie, with 14 points, led the Lakers’ efforts.