Baldwinsville forward Sunday Joshua (44) attempts a short jump shot in last Friday’s game against Corcoran. Joshua had 16 points in the Bees’ 65-64 defeat to the Cougars.
As it prepares to make its return to the Section III Class AA playoffs, the Baldwinsville boys basketball team is intent on doing much more than just show up in the bracket and, perhaps, grab a win before exiting the stage.
That’s mostly what the Bees have done whenever it got to the sectional tournament in recent years, but this group is after something more, and recent results suggest that it’s okay for B’ville to dream a bit.
A convincing exhibit for this optimism was last Monday night’s 76-61 victory by the Bees over West Genesee at Baker High School in a game moved back from its original Jan. 31 date due to a weather postponement.
These same teams had met Jan. 13 in the Zebra Classic at Onondaga Community College, and the Wildcats rode Lucas Sutherland’s 30 points and 10 rebounds to a 77-59 win, which seemed to indicate that WG was a couple of rungs above B’ville in terms of the local pecking order.
Entering the rematch, the Wildcats were 13-3, but also had a showdown with 16-0 Corcoran looming the next night. Whether WG was looking ahead or not, B’ville brought energy and intensity that the visitors could not match.
J.J. Starling and Jake Marshall led the Bees’ attack as it constantly solved the Wildcats’ defense and set a torrid pace. In particular, the second quarter was terrific for B’ville as it outscored WG 24-14 to stretch out its lead to 44-30 at the break.
The rest of the game proved a futile chase on the Wildcats’ part, Sutherland only getting 16 points this time as Will Amica also had 16 points and Jack McLane got 14 points.
Starling and Marshall beat them all on the scoreboard as Starling finished with 24 points and Marshall gained 20 points, with forward Sunday Joshua chiming in as he got 14 points. Dan Fabrizio contributed eight points.
Back above .500 (9-8), B’ville then took out Fayetteville-Manlius 49-32 a night later. Even with the Hornets’ defense playing well, it got shut down in a big way by the Bees, who held them to three points in the first quarter and four points in the third period. Starling and Marshall led the attack with 15 points apiece.
And now B’ville would host Corcoran on Friday night. The Cougars were undefeated and no. 9 in the state Class AA rankings – until West Genesee, right after it lost to the Bees, stunned Corcoran 65-63 on a shot by McLane that may or may not have beaten the buzzer.
In what proved quite an irony, this game would also go down to the final seconds – only here, Corcoran would find the ending more satisfactory as it edged B’ville 65-64.
It was Joshua finding the most traction for the Bees early, getting eight points in the first quarter (and 12 in the half) to keep his team close.
More critically, B’ville didn’t waver after Corcoran three times tried to get away. The Cougars built a 25-16 edge early in the second period, but the Bees whittled down the margin to 29-24 by the break.
And when Corcoran stretched its margin to 47-34 in the third period, B’ville had another answer, charging late in the period with a 15-4 surge capped by Eric Casey’s 3-pointer at the horn.
Finally, down 63-58 with less than three minutes left, the Bees rallied again, and when Marshall, off a feed from Starling, hit a corner 3-pointer with less than a minute left for his only basket of the game, B’ville led 64-63, on the brink of another big win.
The Bees’ defense keyed in on De’Jour Reaves, who had led his side with 21 points, but it left open Jae’son Gillard to drive through the lane and, off balance, hit a runner just before the clock ran out. It was Gillard’s only basket of the night.
Starling finished with 20 points, while Joshua cooled off in the second half, but still had 16 points. Max Dec gained eight points, with Casey getting seven points and Fabrizio earning six points.
B’ville would end its regular season hosting Christian Brothers Academy Tuesday night and then find out a day later where it will start the sectional tournament.