(McKinley's Keyon Johnson finds Avius Outlaw inside for the score that sent the game to OT)
McKinley 84, South Park 74 - OT
The Macks will face Williamsville South in the Class A1 Final on Saturday night at 7 pm. Now the matchup is official, and now we can say that after Saturday night, the two will have combined to win the last 10 titles in that classification.
After taking a 10-point lead after one quarter of play, simple math suggested that McKinley was on its way to an outcome similar to the 40-point win they'd earned over the Sparks less than a month earlier. Fans sitting around me were planning to exit at halftime. But then South Park won the second quarter, 16-9, including a 7-2 finish to the half. With a one possession game at halftime, 28-25, and South Park holding all the momentum, fans wisely stuck around and were treated to a thriller.
"I wanted a game like this, but I wanted it to end in regulation," said McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey. "There was bulletin board material and their coach let his players know they felt disrespected. They came out and competed."
The second half played out like a Yale Cup classic. South Park took its first lead of the game in the third quarter, before the Macks snatched it right back. The Sparks tied things back up again...McKinley closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run, to lead 47-40 heading into the fourth quarter. Now fans were getting coats on and posturing. Not so fast.
Five unanswered to begin the fourth quarter for the Sparks made it a two-point game, and the next four minutes saw the two squads literally trade scores. With just over three minutes left, Shakur Harris took a solid Buff State performance to another level. In just two minutes of game time, Harris scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers - with each one bigger than the last. His third splash gave the Sparks a 64-61 lead with 2:03 to go.
After a bucket and free throw from McKinley's Keyon Johnson tied the game at 64 apiece, Tyree Brown scored, putting the Sparks back in front, 66-64. With 29 seconds left, Harris stole the ball in the McKinley end, and as it looked like they were about to foul him, South Park called timeout. Unable to inbound out of the timeout, the Sparks threw the ball away, giving the Macks another possession.
Johnson delivered a perfect pass under the basket to Avius Outlaw, who finished to tie the game at 66-66. McKinley then denied Harris the ball, and the Sparks couldn't get a good look in the closing seconds of regulation. Overtime!
"I told them nine lives, gotta play now," Dorsey said.
The Macks had hit just one 3-pointer in regulation, repeatedly opting to go to the basket instead.
"We tell our guys - make layups and get to the free throw line and then when you need one, go ahead and shoot," Dorsey said.
But as the extra session got underway, the second shot that went up 30 seconds in was from long range. Outlaw banged one home from the corner. After a pair of free throws by the Sparks, he came right back with another that gave McKinley a 73-68 lead.
"I told him to give me one," said Dorsey. "He shot a couple that were in-and-out...I knew he was going to hit it."
"Confidence, all about confidence," said Outlaw.
The big shot by Outlaw spurred a strong finish by McKinley, as they finally seemed to have worn South Park down. Bruce Booker added another from downtown for the Macks, who won overtime by 10 points.
After a state championship in football, South Park carried its winning ways in to the court and nearly defeated the mighty Macks at their second home. They garnered a lot of new fans after last night.
"Very proud of the guys, they played great and had great attitudes," said South Park coach Peter Hudecki. "As the year went on, we just kept getting better."
McKinley: Shaquan Jones 24, Avius Outlaw 16, Kesean Fisher 16, Keyon Johnson 13, Davonti Wardlaw 7, Bruce Booker 6, Morrell Buster 2
South Park: Shakur Harris 29, Tyree Brown 15, Mike McDonald 10, Tony Robinson 9, Raymond Mushat 8
Fredonia 73, Roy-Hart 30
The Hillbillies executed their game plan, which focused on defending and wearing down the Rams in transition, to near perfection, in an absolutely dominant performance, to earn a date in the Class B2 Final with Health Sciences on Saturday at 12 pm. This will mark the fourth consecutive Section VI Final the Hillbillies have reached. The last time they were sectional champions dates back to 1992.
"We knew what their scorer (Andy Xapsos) could do," said Fredonia coach Greg Lauer. "We played defense the whole game tonight, I couldn't ask for a more complete game defensively."
Fredonia held the Rams to single digit scoring in every quarter, frustrating their repeated attempts to penetrate and getting them to settle for bad shots. They used turnovers and long rebounds to get out in the other direction and finish in transition.
Michael Pucci ran the floor as well as anyone, and finished with a game-high 21 points for Fredonia. He was also tough inside, finishing strong and converting his free throws.
"They've got some big, tough guys and he went at them and finished," said Lauer.
Fredonia: Michael Pucci 21, Eric Swoyer 17, Patrick Moore 12, Lucas Voss 7, Jovany Ruiz 4, Julio Arce 4, Richard Saden 4, Jarod Burmaster 1
Roy-Hart: Andy Xaspos 18, Chris Anderson 3, Justin Heschke 3, Jacob Bruning 3, Justin Czaja 3
Health Sciences 70, I-Prep 57
The Falcons never trailed and took an 11-point lead to halftime, before finishing off the defending Class D champs, to earn a spot in the Class B2 title game against Fredonia on Saturday at 12 pm. It will be the first Section VI title game in program history for Health Sciences.
The got got off to a rocky start, but it was the Falcons who seemed to adjust quicker, and used their smothering defensive pressure to turn the game in their favor. A 3-pointer from Jaylen Prophet to start the second quarter kicked off a 17-9 second quarter that gave the team its sizable halftime lead.
"This was our first time for all of these guys playing at Buff State - they had to really get in and get the feel of the game," said Health Sciences coach Ty Parker.
Despite a 12-point third quarter from I-Prep's Davon Gant, Health Sciences still held a 10-point lead late in the quarter, until Gant got a half court buzzer-beater to go, giving his team a lift and closing the gap to 45-37 heading into the final stanza.
But Prophet, who scored a team-high 20 points, nailed a '3' to start the fourth and restore the double figure lead. The Presidents could never get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"Those tough games we played in the middle of the season are what got us ready for this," said Parker. "Fredonia's a good team and they have a lot of experience playing here. We accept the challenge...we've got to get ready."
Health Sciences: Jaylen Prophet 20, Tyron Lott 13, Wise Threat 11, Kameron Briggs 11, Davonte Gaines 10, Jaquan Renfro 3, Amarri Funderburk 2
I-Prep: Davon Gant 26, Will Turner 10, Jeffrey Townsel 9, Zack Bashir 6, J'Zon Richardson 6