Mar 01, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Jordan Roland got the Westhill boys basketball team started in Saturday’s Section III Class B final against Utica-Notre Dame at the Carrier Dome, so it only figured that he would finish the work, too.
Roland managed 31 points in yet another star turn to help the undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Warriors hold off the Jugglers 63-60 and repeat as sectional champions.
Between Roland and Tyler Reynolds, who finished with 19 points, Westhill mostly relied on its proven junior scoring tandem to turn back UND’s formidable challenge.
If the Warriors entertained any notion that getting past the no. 3 seed Jugglers would be routine, the first half took care of those issues, even though Westhill ended it nursing a 28-25 lead.
As he seems to do each time he takes the floor, Roland used his wide range of skills to baffle UND, getting 16 of his team’s first 21 points and crashing the boards whenever possible. By game’s end, Roland had picked up 13 rebounds.
Whenever Roland cooled down, Reynolds took charge, getting nine first-half points. In fact, Roland and Reynolds accounted for every Westhill point until Jeff Lobello sank a free throw in the waning seconds of the second quarter.
With a lack of variety, the Warriors were more vulnerable, and the Jugglers took advantage. With 12 points from Devin Warmack and eight points from Jerome Brabham, UND rarely turned the ball over and found gaps in Westhill’s vaunted man-to-man defense. Only a late shooting slump allowed the Warriors to inch back in front just before the break.
Knowing that UND wanted a slower pace, Westhill attempted, in the third quarter, to go faster, but again the Jugglers had an answer, matching baskets until, at 40-40, Reynolds tried to charge his team up with a baseline dunk and blocked shot that led to another Roland basket.
But as the fourth quarter started, the Warriors clung to the same three-point advantage (47-44) that it had at the half, and it would spend the rest of the game turning back UND’s numerous attempts to catch up.
Baskets got more precious, with the defenses on both sides making it difficult to maneuver. In such a game, anything can make a difference, and UND hurt itself with a series of missed free throws down the stretch.
Despite that, the margin was still three, 60-57, when Lobello missed a driving lay-up with 30 seconds left, only to have Brian Daily grab the game’s biggest rebound and pass it to Roland, who was fouled.
Roland promptly sank those two free throws, along with another foul shot with 18.4 seconds to play to make it 63-57, and though Brabham hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds, it proved too late.
Overall, Brabham led the Jugglers with 21 points, while Warmack produced 17 points, four rebounds and four assists. Joe Sullivan had his own double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Westhill now returns to the state Class B tournament, where it will face Section IV champion Norwich in next Saturday’s regional final at Binghamton University. These same two teams met in the regional round a year ago at SRC Arena, with the Warriors prevailing.
Once Utica-Notre Dame was finally put away, Westhill only had a modest celebration. A sectional title is not a new thing for this group, and now the Warriors want nothing less than a trip back to Glens Falls for the March 14-15 state Class B final four.
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