One side longed to hold on to its crown. The other tried to knock it off and end a championship drought that stretched back 41 years.
In the end, Westhill got the best of Chittenango. Again.
The Warriors stepped up down the stretch and, with five players scoring in double figures, defeated the Bears 66-58 Sunday in the Carrier Dome to repeat as Section III Class B boys basketball champions.
This was also Westhill’s eighth sectional title in 10 years, while prolonging the agony for a Chittenango program that was minutes away from a first championship since 1977.
Sean Dadey, who led the Warriors with 17 points, said that facing a fourth-quarter deficit did not faze his battle-tested team.
“We’ve been in this position a few times,” said Dadey. “But we kept our composure and made some big shots.”
With less than three minutes to play, Chittenango led 53-51, having weathered some scoring droughts, including one where it did not get a point in the last 5:12 of the second quarter quarter, to give itself a great chance to avenge last year’s lopsided defeat to Westhill in the sectional title game.
But then the Warriors closed on a 15-5 run. Dadey’s two free throws tied it, and Zechariah Brown’s hard drive to the basket, layup and free throw with 2:17 left pushed the Warriors ahead for good.
Zach Falkenburg’s free throws cut the Bears’ deficit to one, 56-55, but then Dadey and John Geer drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter of them with 58 seconds to play, all but dashing Chittenango’s chances.
Everyone in the starting five contributed, from Dadey to Brown (who had 16 points and seven rebounds) to Geer, who got 11 points and six rebounds. Holden Carroll and Owen Matukas each had 10 points, with Carroll adding eight rebounds.
Of far greater importance to the Warriors was the way Matukas played on defense. It was mostly his task to contain Chittenango’s top scoring threat, Zach Falkenburg, and he did so, Falkenburg limited to 13 points and just one field goal in the fourth quarter.
Yet the Bears nearly made up for Falkenburg’s game-long struggles. It was Dylan Voutsinas sparking a 10-0 run late in the first quarter with six points as he would prove tough all game long, leading Chittenango with 20 points.
Inside, Sam Hill achieved a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, and it was Hill’s basket with 2:46 left that briefly put the Bears in front with 2:46 left before Westhill’s strong closing kick. Matt Lanphear also had 10 points.
Until the Warriors’ closing charge, neither team led by more than than five points all afternoon. The second half alone featured seven ties and eight lead changes.
Westhill will face Section IV champion Seton Catholic next Sunday in the regional final at 2:45 on the same Floyd L. Maines Arena floor in Binghamton where the Warriors won the state title a year ago – and where the state final four again takes place March 16-17.
Sep 20, 2018
Sep 20, 2018