Make that 21 straight wins for the Liverpool boys basketball team, and a step closer to back-to-back Section III Class AA titles.
The undefeated, state no. 3-ranked Warriors followed a successful formula in Wednesday night’s sectional AA quarterfinal against West Genesee, taking charge in the second half to defeat the Wildcats 75-55.
As the no. 8 seed, WG had ousted Cicero-North Syracuse in the first round. But it had lost twice to Liverpool in January, both by double digits (90-73 on Jan. 3, 77-64 four weeks later), even though those games had shown the Wildcats that it could, at the very least, make the Warriors worry for a while.
Though never getting a lead, WG played Liverpool on even terms for the rest of the first half after the Warriors netted the game’s first eight points. Even if it wasn’t quite the tempo it wanted, the Warriors led 30-22 at the break.
During that first half, WG contained most of the Liverpool lineup – everyone except Allan Willmes Jr, who poured in 16 points, more than half his team’s output, on his way to 24 points.
But in the second half, it was Nas Johnson taking over. Johnson, who already had hurt WG before (he hit a buzzer-beating jumper in a 2016 game in Camillus), put in eight points during a decisive 15-5 run to open the third quarter.
All told, Johnson had 16 of his 22 points in the second half, damaging the Wildcats in a way that it could not overcome as Charles Pride and Kyle Butler finished with nine points apiece.
On WG’s side, Jack McLane had a career-high 17 points and Will Amica added 16 points. Liverpool contained Lucas Sutherland most of the night, limiting him to 12 points.
This leads to a familiar scenario – the Warriors taking on Bishop Ludden at SRC Arena in the sectional semifinals Sunday at 1:15. It’s the third straight year these teams have met on this floor in the sectional tournament, counting the 2016 final won by the Gaelic Knights and the 2017 semifinal where Liverpool prevailed.
No. 4 seed Ludden, trying to win one more title for retiring head coach Pat Donnelly, edged no. 5 seed Henninger 78-75 in the quarterfinals, and will look to avenge both last year’s defeat and a Dec. 28 loss to the Warriors in the finals of Ludden’s holiday tournament. The winner meets Central Square or Nottingham March 4 in the Carrier Dome in the sectional title game.