(3) Newfane 65, (2) MST Seneca 63
For 30 minutes, Newfane never trailed in a close battle with the Wolves. However, a three-point play converted by Dom Prince, a free throw by Earl Howard, and a rebound & score from David Anderson gave MST Seneca a quick 6-0 spurt and a 61-59 lead and the game moved under two minutes remaining.
"Howard & Anderson dominated us on the glass all night, they just out-muscled us at the end and made some great plays," said Newfane coach Eric Klumpp. "That team's got a lot of heart."
Caleb Russell connected on a pair of charity tosses to tie the game, 61-61, and after a stop by the Panthers, Kyle DeVoogel found Russell open on the baseline for a jumper with 56 seconds left, restoring Newfane's lead.
With 20 seconds left on the clock, Howard dribbled inside the arc for MST, driving his defender back, and then pulled up to swish a long jumper to even the game again, 63-63.
After a Newfane timeout, the had a sideline inbound with 11 seconds to go in the game. Klumpp went to a play that had been well rehearsed for an occasion just like the one the Panthers found themselves in. Max Weber came from the baseline corner and looped around the top of the key, heading back towards the basket. Russell lobbed an inbound pass just over the defender and Weber took a perfectly placed pass and finished in the lane.
"We practice that play three times a week and specifically run it for Max because we know they'll be guarding him so tight, we can get a couple rub offs," Klumpp said. "The throw has to be perfect and it was, just a tremendous finish there."
Weber led the Panthers with a game-high 25 points, while Albert Kramp added 15 points in the win. Howard scored a team-high 22 points for the Wolves and Anderson finished with 21 points.
With the victory, Newfane reaches the Class B1 Final for the second time since 2011 under Klumpp. The unranked small school that finished second in its league now faces WNY's top-ranked small school in East Aurora, who also reached the championship round last season.
"I've told them from the beginning of the year that they just need to start betting on themselves and believing that life responds to what you believe you deserve," said Klumpp.
Newfane 18 - 14 - 14 - 19 = 65
Seneca 13 - 13 - 14 - 23 = 63
Newfane: Max Weber 25, Albert Kramp 15, Caleb Russell 8, Kyle DeVoogel 7, Chad Dunbar 4, Connor Hill 4, Sam Kline 2
MST Seneca: Earl Howard 22, David Anderson 21, Dom Prince 9, Davon Jones 6, Marquel Hampshire 4, Diallo Gray 1
******* ******** ********
(1) East Aurora 59, (5) Dunkirk 55
The Blue Devils closed the game on a 10-0 run over the final 2:06 of the game to rally from a 55-49 deficit. Dunkirk had been in front since the end of the opening quarter, took a 13-point lead in the third quarter, and led by 12 points with just 5:13 left in the game. East Aurora outscored the Marauders 19-5 over the final five minutes and dropped 27 in the final frame.
"It took plays like Owen Smith & Joe Montgomery diving on the floor," East Aurora coach Chris Koselny said. "We talk about energy, effort, and enthusiasm everyday and that's what it took - we were able to scratch & claw and get it done today."
Dunkirk was the more energetic team for three quarters, aided by its production offensively. Eight 3-pointers went in for the Marauders before the start of the fourth quarter, led by Tyreek Ruiz and Evon Hernandez, who each connected on three bombs in the game and shared team-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece. Darnell Butts added a pair of trifectas and scored eight points.
"Give a lot of credit to Dunkirk...they shot the ball extremely well and did to us exactly what we knew they were going to do," Koselny said. "We responded at the end, but throughout the game, we were questionable."
Cal McTigue led East Aurora with a game-high 20 points and collected 10 of those in the crucial fourth quarter, with eight coming over the last five minutes. Nick Montgomery added 18 points for the Blue Devils, while Josh Denz scored nine in the win. Despite finding difficulty getting layups to fall and struggling from the field for much of the contest, East Aurora showed a lot of heart and character down the stretch and gutted out a win with intense pressure late.
The Class B1 Championship is Saturday at 1:45 pm between East Aurora and Newfane.
Dunkirk 14 - 16 - 11 - 14 = 55
E. Aurora 12 - 11 - 9 - 27 = 59
East Aurora: Cal McTigue 20, Nick Montgomery 18, Josh Denz 9, Noah Denz 5, Owen Smith 4, Joe Montgomery 3
Dunkirk: Evon Hernandez 16, Tyreek Ruiz 16, Darnell Butts 8, Devaun Farnham 7, Shamon Stewart 6, Felix Garcia 2