Feb 15, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Tim Solomon’s five years of hard work, ups and downs, breakthroughs and setbacks in bringing the Baldwinsville boys basketball program into prominence has led to a long-awaited appearance in this winter’s Section III Class AA playoffs – and the Bees were not about to waste that newfound opportunity.
Even with a nervous start and a determined opponent in Corcoran, the no. 7 seed Bees fed off the loud energy of its home crowd, stayed cool down the stretch and pulled out a 52-46 victory over the no. 10 seed Cougars in Friday night’s opening round of the sectional tournament.
Just to get into the playoffs, B’ville, who started 4-8, had to win five of its last six games. It also had to beat Corcoran 54-51, avenging a defeat to the Cougars by that exact same score on Dec. 17, just to get that chance to play at home.
Yet that’s what the Bees enjoyed as a loud crowd, spurred on by B’ville’s large and talented Pep Band, prepared for tip-off- and then watched B’ville go nearly five minutes without scoring a point as Corcoran jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
Solomon said his players were tight and nervous, and played that way. But after calling an early time-out, B’ville got on the board with Devyn McLeod’s basket with 3:11 left in the first quarter, and started to settle down.
Still, Corcoran led the entire first half, responding well when B’ville tried to rush at them in the second quarter. Worse yet for the Bees, Ben DiOrio, the team’s dependable junior guard, went to the bench with two early fouls.
DiOrio not return for the rest of the half, But the Bees hung in there and only trailed, 26-20, at halftime, and promptly erased that deficit early in the third quarter when DiOrio returned.
Helping the Bees’ cause was a high-pressure, man-to-man defense that forced Corcoran into rushed shots and lots of turnovers. That defensive work had a cumulative effect, especially at the start of the fourth quarter.
From a modest 34-33 deficit, B’ville promptly held the Cougars without a point for more than four minutes, and overall went on a 10-2 run to grab a 44-36 lead, capped by Nick Alley’s driving basket with 3:26 to play.
Corcoran did not back down, though, and staged its own rally, chipping away at B’ville’s margin. When Lashondre Jamison sank a free throw with 39 seconds left, the Bees only had a two-point edge, 48-46.
Facing full-court pressure, B’ville managed to hang on to the ball until DiOrio was fouled with 14.4 seconds to play. Without hesitation, DiOrio made both free throws, and when the Cougars were unable to score on its next possession, it was over as Kyle George’s pair of foul shots sealed it.
McLeod carried the Bees’ attack for long stretches of the game, finishing with a game-high 18 points, plus 11 rebounds. George added 12 points and eight rebounds, with DiOrio getting eight points and nine assists, Cameron Skipworth seven points and Alley six points. Jamison and Marquis Gilbert led Corcoran with 11 points apiece.
Now, the Bees look ahead to Tuesday night’s Class AA quarterfinal and a trip east to face no. 2 seed Utica Proctor at 7 p.m. The winner gets to play in the semifinals on Feb. 22 at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena against defending champion Henninger or CBA.