Mar 23, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Perfection, in sports or any other endeavor, is rarely attained, but the Westhill boys basketball team has pulled it off.
Twenty-seven times in the 2013-14 season, the Warriors took the court, and it won every single time, capped by Sunday’s 65-46 victory over Regis in Sunday’s state Class B Federation championship game at Albany’s Times Union Center.
It’s the first Federation title for Westhill. The two previous times it prevailed in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament, in 1997 and 2010, it could not add the Federation title on either occasion.
Here, though, Westhill carried over the high level of performance it had shown a week earlier at Glens Falls, when in the state public final against Olean Jordan Roland scored 32 first-half points in a dazzling shooting display.
Any concern that the Warriors may have peaked at Glens Falls was silenced during the first quarter of Saturday’s Federation semifinal, a 80-52 victory over Dwight School, from New York City, who represented the Association of Independent Schools.
During a first-quarter blitz, Westhill left Dwight far behind, and again Roland led the way. He had 13 of the Warriors’ first 18 points, and even after Dwight double-teamed him, Westhill kept on going until, at the end of the period, it had a 25-2 lead.
To its credit, Dwight fought back in the second quarter, taking advantage of Roland picking up his third foul. But Tyler Reynolds carried the attack with a series of baskets, and when Ryan Roland sank a 3-pointer just before the horn, Westhill took a 42-23 lead to halftime.
When Jordan Roland returned in the third quarter, the Warriors regained its earlier margin, and then added to it as Dwight could not keep pace.
Roland doing a bit of everything, finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and five assists. Reynolds picked up a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds, while William Billy had eight points. Kevin Daily and Ryan Roland each got six points.
And this led to the Federation final against Regis, also from New York City, who represented the Catholic High School Athletic Association. The Raiders had beaten PSAL champion Brooklyn Arts 52-44 in the other Federation semifinal.
After blazing starts in its last two outings, Westhill, for once, came out slowly against Regis, giving up the game’s first five points. But within minutes, Roland had put his team in front to stay, and his 10 first-quarter points eventually produced a 21-12 lead going to the second period.
Settling down, the Raiders traded baskets with Westhill the rest of the half. Thus, despite 18 points from Roland and nine points from Reynolds, the Warriors only had a 34-28 lead early in the third quarter.
But two big runs would preserve the perfect season. First, Roland and Reynolds sparked a 12-2 spurt that made it 46-30. Then, after Regis answered with eight straight points, the Warriors sealed it in the fourth quarter with 10 consecutive points.
What’s more, for all that the talented junior class had done to lead Westhill throughout this dream season, it was the lone senior starter, guard William Billy, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers during that 10-0 run that helped end the drama.
When they exited with less than two minutes left, Roland had picked up 30 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Reynolds had secured 17 points, plus six rebounds. Fellow juniors Dan O’Connell and Jeff Lobello stood out, too, as O’Connell grabbed nine rebounds and Lobello managed seven assists.
Already, the anticipation for 2014-15 has started for Westhill. Having Reynolds, Lobello, O’Connell, Jordan Roland and Ryan Roland back will create massive expectations, but one thing is certain – what happened this season could not be topped, only matched.