Mar 01, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Something quite familiar — and something quite new — will be on display when two Syracuse city boys basketball teams pursue Section III championships Sunday at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Nottingham, seeking to add another chapter to its great hoops legacy, will meet two-time defending state champion Jamesville-DeWitt in the Class A final at 5:30.
This follows the noon tip-off of the Class D final, where Syracuse Academy of Science, in only its third season at the varsity level, will play for its first-ever title against top seed and defending champion New York Mills, who is ranked no. 1 in the state with a 21-0 record.
Both teams reached this point through winning in last Saturday’s semifinal round. In Class A at LeMoyne College, Nottingham disposed of Bishop Ludden 56-44, while in Class D SAS needed a last-second shot to get past unbeaten DeRuyter 50-47 at Onondaga Community College.
And a third city team nearly made it, too, as Henninger led going to the fourth quarter of the Class AA semifinal against Utica Proctor at Rome Free Academy, only to see it get away in a 60-53 loss to the Raiders.
SAS had the highest amount of drama. The Atoms, as a no. 3 seed, were facing a 19-0 opponent in DeRuyter, who succeeded in slowing down the game’s tempo, making it a sharp contrast to the routs of Madison and Otselic Valley in the early rounds.
The two teams were close much of the way until SAS made a big run early in the fourth quarter, only to see the Rockets roar back, tying it 47-47 in the closing seconds of regulation. Now SAS had to see how much poise it possessed, as it needed a basket to avoid overtime.
They got it when, with two seconds left, Adrian Edwards flashed open, took a 3-point shot — and made it, the winning basket as the Atoms moved forward.
Nottingham did not require any late heroics against Bishop Ludden, instead relying on its most reliable trait — a defense that had already done an effective job shutting down Indian River and Whitesboro in the first two rounds.
All the Gaelic Knights could manage in the first quarter was two points, as pressure led to wayward shots that the Bulldogs snapped up through domination on the boards.
Still, Notttingham could not put Ludden away, only leading 9-2 through one period and seeing the margin shrink to four at one point late in the half. At the break, the Bulldogs clung to a 20-14 advantage.
The getaway began midway through the third quarter, when Nottingham went on an 8-2 run to spread its lead to 34-20. Ludden fought to the end, as John Rooney (22 points) had 14 points in the last two minutes alone, but the Bulldogs got its last 15 points from successful free throws (most of them from Roosevelt Bullock), advancing to meet J-D.
Again, Jawan Simmons would lead the way, finishing with 19 points, while Bullock (whose double-overtime buzzer-beating jumper beat Indian River in the first round) added 17 points. Cameron Isaac had seven points and James Brown added six points.
All this glory was within Henninger’s grasp, too, as it sought to avenge two close regular-season losses to Utica Proctor and prevent the Raiders from playing a sectional final against Cicero-North Syracuse right in its hometown.
Through a back-and-forth first half, the Black Knights fell behind, then nearly made up the margin, so though it went to the break down 26-25, it felt quite good about its chances.
Henninger felt even better in the third period, holding Proctor to 10 points and roaring to a 41-36 lead. Led by Brandon Hanks (17 points) and Kadeem Johnson (14 points), Henninger was eight minutes from its fourth straight finals appearance.
But it never got there. Proctor exploded in the fourth quarter with a 16-3 run to pull ahead for good, and though Henninger pulled within 52-49 in the last minute, it could not complete the rally.
Jayson Jackson made a big difference for the Raiders. Of his 17 points, nine came in the fourth quarter, and his leaping save set up a critical basket by Walkery Mills in the final minute.
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