West Genesee guard Will Amica (2) finishes off a breakaway dunk during Sunday’s game against Baldwinsville in Sunday's Pathfinder Bank Zebra Classic at Onondaga Community College’s Allyn Hall. Helped by Amica’s 18 points, the Wildcats won, 77-59, over the Beels
Perhaps the West Genesee and Corcoran boys basketball teams have separated themselves from everyone else in the Section III Class AA ranks – but if that’s the case, very little separates them.
That was the overwhelming lesson derived from last Tuesday night’s overtime battle, where the Wildcats fell, 67-64, to the Cougars, giving an all-out effort while suffering its first defeat of the season.
Going into the game, WG had an 8-0 record and had risen to no. 14 in the state AA rankings. Corcoran was 10-0, at no. 19 in that same state poll.
Having not played in 11 days, the Wildcats had a difficult time establishing its offense early, held without a field goal in the first three minutes and seeing John Benson go to the bench with two early fouls.
However, Jack McLane’s six points helped WG go in front late in the first quarter, where it would stay for most of the night, able to maintain that advantage yet not get away from the Cougars.
Up by nine in the second quarter, the Wildcats saw Corcoran go on a 12-2 run to briefly go in front before WG regained the edge, 29-26, by halftime, and then lead throughout the third quarter.
Yet it all turned in the final period thanks to Corcoran senior De’Jour Reaves, who poured in 13 points during that last quarter, sparking an offense that, prior to that, had difficulty dealing with the Wildcats’ strong inside game.
Reaves’ driving layup pushed the Cougars in front 51-50, and after Benson answered, Reaves’ basket and free throw, a three-point play, gave Corcoran a 54-52 lead with 1:15 to play.
As it turned out, the last minute of regulation foretold the outcome, even though Lucas Sutherland, kept quiet much of the way, hit two clutch free throws with 11 seconds left that ultimately forced overtime.
Will Amica, who led WG with 15 points, went to the bench with his fourth foul in the third quarter. Returning late, Amica tried to stay in there, but fouled out with 29 seconds left.
After the Cougars missed the ensuing one-and-one and Sutherland tied it, Reaves was stripped on a drive to the goal, and as the horn sounded Christian Rossi unloaded a shot from beyond half-court to win it for the Wildcats – and it bounced off the rim.
Without Amica for the four minutes of OT, the Wildcats fell behind, 60-55, and despite a furious effort, WG never got closer than three points again, with Reaves, Brendon Denham and Dewayne Young each contributing points in the final minute to help Corcoran hang on.
Overall, Reaves finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Young had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sutherland got 14 points, followed by McLane (eight points) and Kam Jones (seven points). Benson and Adam Dudzinski got six points apiece.
This setback, however small, should not worry the Wildcats too much, especially since, on Feb. 5, it will get another shot at the Cougars, this time on its home court in Camillus.
WG was home on Friday to face Henninger, which the team designated as the “Joe Adams Memorial Game”, named in honor of the late basketball and lacrosse coach at the school who passed away in January 2018 at age 46 from brain cancer. All proceeds from the game would benefit brain cancer research.
Desperately wanting to win in Adams’ honor, WG found itself pushed to overtime for the third straight game, and again it lost, falling to the Black Knights 68-63.
Neither team could gain any kind of separation in the 32 minutes of regulation. Then Henninger, just 4-7 coming into the night, went in front for good in the four minutes of OT, outscoring the Wildcats 11-6.
Sutherland, with 22 points, and Amica, with 19 points, accounted for most of WG’s production. McLane and Rossi had seven points apiece as Travis Gray led the Black Knights with 25 points and Jonah Alston had 18 points.
Now the Wildcats would look to recover Sunday against Baldwinsville in the Pathfinder Bank Zebra Classic at Onondaga Community College’s Allyn Hall, right before games Tuesday at Cicero-North Syracuse and Thursday at Liverpool, both teams WG beat at home in December.
WG did beat B’ville 77-59, using runs of 18-0 and 12-0 in the second half to overcome a 35-30 second-quarter deficit. Sutherland poured in 30 points, with Amica adding 18 points and Benson earning 10 points.