(Olean's Ben Eckstrom defends Dunkirk's Devaun Farnham / Photo by Ron Szot @RonSzotImaging)
Olean 59, Dunkirk 41
Ben Eckstrom led all scorers with 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Huskies to a fifth straight Section VI championship game. Jale Cavana scored 16 points and connected on four 3-pointers, while Monty Shoemaker added 13 points. Elijah Ramadhan gradded 10 rebounds to go along with his five points.
Dunkirk came into the game as heavy underdogs, after a pair of lopsided losses to the Huskies in the regular season. However, the Marauders were a different team on this night and came in prepared, making Olean earn its victory.
"I give Dunkirk credit, they played really hard," said Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. "I thought they hit the boards really well and got some good penetration on us."
Evon Hernandez scored all eight of his points in the first half for Dunkirk, as they showed patience on the offensive end and ran through sets to find good shots. At halftime, the state's #1 ranked team in Class B led by just eight points, after trailing by 30 by the midway point of their prior meeting.
"We watched a ton of film and practiced hard with our scout team," Dunkirk coach Stephen O'Brien said. "The intensity was going to be here, 0ur guys were up."
Rashaad Brown led the Marauders with 10 points, while fellow seniors, Isaiah Thomas and Chad Butts each scored seven points in the game. Thomas had missed both of the previous meetings against the Huskies, while Butts sat the second contest. The trio offer Dunkirk size & athleticism, and made life in the paint harder for Olean.
"Those guys are athletic, they have them listed at 6-4," Anastasia said. "I'm standing next to them, I always thought I was 6-4...maybe I'm shrinking."
The Huskies took charge in the third quarter, winning the frame 20-7, to extend their lead to 50-29. All of their points in the quarter came from Monty Shoemaker (11) and Jake Cavana, who drilled three of his treys during that stretch to help his team pull away.
Olean will face East Aurora on Saturday at 1:45 pm for the Class B1 title. The Huskies defeated them in the second game of the season by 30 points on their home court.
Olean: Ben Eckstrom 19, Jake Cavana 16, Monty Shoemaker 13, Elijah Ramadhan 5, Mike Schmidt 4, Derek Schmidt 2
Dunkirk: Isaiah Thomas 9, Rahsaad Brown 8, Evon Hernandez 8, Chad Butts 7, Juan Damas 6, Devaun Farnham 2, Tyreek Buchanon-Ruiz 1
East Aurora 55, Medina 46
Noah Thompson scored a game-high 25 points and came through with some big shots in the clutch, as the Blue Devils advanced to their first Section VI championship game since 2012, when they played in Class A and advanced to the regional under head coach Chris Koselny.
Medina gave the Blue Devils all they could handle, led by Jalin Cooper who finished with a team-high 18 points. Cooper along with 6-7 Tyler Ames manned the paint and controlled the boards for the Mustangs, who led 28-25 at halftime.
"Our kids really rose to the challenge when they showed some things we hadn't prepared for," said Koselny.
In the third quarter, Medina used an 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the game, 36-29, after Justin Morgan knocked down a 3-pointer. However, the Blue Devils answered with a run of their own, closing the stanza on a 12-1 run over the final 2:30 of the third, that included three 3-pointers. East Aurora led 43-38 heading into the final frame.
"We made some big shots when we needed a big shot," said Koselny.
The Mustangs got back to within two points midway through the fourth quarter, when Thompson stepped up and nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the contest to spur a 9-2 finish for the Blue Devils and send them to the championship game.
"I can't say enough about him," Koselny said of Thompson. "His aggressiveness, his leadership is what's pushing us right now."
The Blue Devils will look to become the first and only team to defeat Olean in the Class B1 championship on Saturday, as the Huskies come in as WNY's only undefeated team with a 22-0 mark.
"We know they present a great challenge," said Koselny. "We're very much looking forward to that opportunity."
East Aurora: Noah Thompson 25, Cal McTigue 9, Nick Montgomery 8, Liam Sheehan 5, Calum Dils 4, Joe Montgomery 3, Josh Denz 1
Medina: Jalin Cooper 18, Daryl Haynes 8, Tyler Ames 6, Justin Morgan 5, Jared Zinkievich 5, Ronnie Koonce 4