Mar 16, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Every Westhill boys basketball player, along with their coaches and fans, dreams of winning a state championship. Yet none of them, in their wildest imaginations, could have conceived just how the Warriors reached the summit for the third time in the program’s history.
Jordan Roland put up a first half for the ages in Saturday night’s state Class B final against Olean at Glens Falls Civic Center, Tyler Reynolds nearly matched him by game’s end, and it all added up to a 93-55 destruction of the Huskies and a perfect 25-0 mark.
Just like in 1997 and 2010, Westhill brought home the big prize, but in neither of those instances did they provide something comparable to what Roland and Reynolds would do to Olean.
Making every conceivable shot, Roland scored 32 points – by halftime, and finished with 41 points, along with tournament MVP honors. Then, even with his team well out in front, Reynolds kept them there with his own big outburst in the second half, which gave him 38 points for the night.
As a whole, Westhill’s 93 points fell just one point short of the team record for any state tournament game in Glens Falls. And the seven 3-pointers that Roland converted left him just one short of another state tournament mark, while his 41 points lagged just behind the record of 47 points that Bernard Blunt (Jamesville-DeWitt) and Adonal Foyle (Hamilton) share.
Yet even the numbers don’t adequately describe the sense of shock and awe that Olean, who beat Woodlands 71-63 in one state semifinal as Westhill was outlasting Ogdensburg Free Academy 74-67 in the other, must have felt during the first half.
Barely 30 seconds into the game, Roland hit a jumper. Then he made two free throws. Midway through the first quarter, the onslaught began in earnest as Roland hit on three 3-pointers in a span of less than two minutes, as he finished the period with 15 points.
And that was just the beginning.
Two more contested jumpers early in the second quarter brought Roland’s total to 19 points. Even though Olean constantly put pressure on him and had a defender square up, Roland continued to fire away – and continued to convert.
By the middle of the second quarter, the total was up to 26 points thanks to two more 3-pointers that found the net. And just as the Warriors were closing the half on an astonishing 27-4 run, Roland got his fifth and sixth 3-pointers of the night, the last of them an NBA-range jumper that made it 49-18 going into halftime.
With those 32 points, Roland had nearly doubled the production of a talented, potent Olean lineup that included two college-bound seniors (Will Bathurst to Cornell, Sam Eckstrom to College of Saint Rose) all by himself. Thus, the only serious remaining question was the final margin – and whether Roland would get to that record 47-point plateau.
The shell-shocked Huskies were out of the game by now, but that didn’t matter to Westhill. In the second half, Roland mostly deferred to his junior teammate, Reynolds, whose 27 points were so crucial in the Ogdensburg win the night before.
From long-range jumpers to an emphatic dunk midway through the third quarter, Reynolds managed to score another 27 points just in those last two periods, adding more luster to an effort that already tested the limits of superlative language.
Team-wise, Westhill made 14 of the 21 3-pointers it attempted and shot 64.2 percent (36-for-56 overall). Roland tried 21 field goals and made 16 of them – all of this on top of a defense that, anchored by Jeff Lobello and William Billy, made sure that none of the Huskies’ stars got close to the rhythm that the Warriors found.
Bathurst still had 17 points, while Eckstrom had 13 points and Luke Hennessy had 12 points. But Nick Schmidt, the son of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball head coach Mark Schmidt, had just eight points after making seven 3-pointers of his own the night before against Woodlands.
Even with the state title in hand, Westhill is not done yet, as it heads to Albany’s Times Union Center to pay in the Federation Class B Tournament next weekend. The semifinal is Saturday at 3:15 against the Dwight School, the New York State Association of Independent Schools representative, with the championship game on March 23 at 3:30.
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