Poise, precision and unselfishness have marked the Westhill boys basketball team all the way through its latest state Class B championship push.
So it only figured that, when the Warriors returned to the familiar territory of the state final four, those familiar elements would emerge again to take down a high-quality opponent – in this case Center Moriches, whom Westhill beat Friday night 71-58 in the state semifinal at Binghamton’s Floyd L. Maines Veterans Arena.
Center Moriches, the Section XI champions from Long Island, operated best at just one speed – fast and frantic, with a desire to take a shot as soon as it was available. It was up to Westhill to dictate the game’s tempo and not let the Red Devils run as much as it wanted.
That also meant going to the bench, which head coach Kevin King did by inserting Owen Matukas and John Geer just three minutes into the game. Geer and Matukas each converted baskets during the first quarter while helping the Warriors’ defense slow Center Moriches down in half-court sets.
Six different Westhill players netted field goals in the first quarter, capped by Braeden Elmer’s driving layup down the baseline right before the horn that produced a 15-10 advantage. Then a seventh player, Antonio Scrimale, got on the board early in the second period.
Sean Dadey took over for a while with seven straight points and the margin got to double digits. Then it was Kameren Jackson’s turn, his effort symbolized by a hustle play where he followed his own missed shot and converted a lay-up while the Center Moriches defenders stood around and watched.
Zechariah Brown would provide fitting bridges to Westhill’s superb first-half effort. Brown scored his team’s first three points and, seconds before halftime, answered a Troy Goode 3-pointer with a deep shot of his own, extending Westhill’s lead to 37-20 at the break.
Even that didn’t make the Warriors content. Jackson and Dadey netted 17 points between them (Jackson nine, Dadey eight) in the third quarter to expand the margin out of the Red Devils’ reach, including one Jackson basket on a coast-to-coast drive after he had blocked a Center Moriches shot.
Dadey finished with 22 points and Jackson, with 18 points and eight rebounds, was close behind. Matukas and Zechariah Brown got eight points apiece as Braeden Elmer produced six points.
Now just one win separates Westhill from a fifth state title, and fourth in eight years. It’s Canton, from Section X, who beat Buffalo Health Sciences (Section VI) 67-55 in the other state semifinal and is appearing in the title game for the first time in program history.