A third state Class B championship for the Westhill boys basketball team is just one victory away.
Again, the result didn't come easily, but the Warriors, fueled by the junior tandem of Tyler Reynolds and Jordan Roland, got away in the final two minutes to beat Ogdensburg Free Academy 74-67 in Friday night's state semifinal at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Beaten in this exact same round on this exact same floor a year ago by Babylon, Westhill was in no mood to go through that experience again. But OFA, the state's no. 2-ranked team with a 23-1 record, was just as determined to thwart the Warriors' dreams.
Hailing from Section X, OFA had outscored its post-season opponents by an average of 45 points per game and boasted a trio of three 1,000-point scorers, chief among them Kinnon LaRose, who averaged nearly 24 points a night.
But while the Blue Devils had cruised through its sectional and state playoff slate, Westhill was pushed hard, first getting through a narrow Section III final against Utica-Notre Dame, and then surviving overtime to knock off Norwich for the second year in a row.
Steeled by those battles, Westhill eagerly embraced OFA's desire to set a fast pace, and the two sides traded blows throughout a frantic first quarter. Mostly with Reynolds' wide variety of shots, the Warriors inched out in front, 24-23, by the end of the period.
Though it slowed down a bit in the second quarter, the exchanges continued, OFA grabbing a 35-30 lead before big baskets from reserves Brian Daily and Mike Burton tied it up, 35-35, and they remained on even terms until halftime, where it stood at 41-41.
Roland and Reynolds pushed Westhill to a 46-41 lead early in the third quarter, but that didn't last, either, as OFA went back in front, 53-51, late in the period, only to see Reynolds tie it and Daily hit a free throw that gave the Warriors a slim 54-53 edge going to the final period.