Health Sciences 55, Medina 37
With many expecting to see offense fireworks as the Falcons faced Medina, who was riding a 14-game winning streak and arrived with plenty of talent, it was defense that decided the outcome and dictated the pace of the game. Health Sciences pressured non-stop and kept the Mustangs to just 13 points by halftime and 22 points through three quarters, to earn a return trip to the Section VI Class B2 Final.
"We take pride in our defense," Health Sciences coach Ty Parker said. "Defense was the key tonight."
Kameron Briggs connected from long range on three occasions for the Falcons and led the team with 18 points. Davonte Gaines scored 11 points, while Tyron Lott added 10 points in the win.
Jalin Cooper finished with a team-high 16 points for Medina and tied a school record for most points in a season in the process. For Health Sciences, a big key to the victory was its defense on the supporting cast for the Mustangs, particularly sophomore Johnny Salone.
"We knew Jalin (Cooper) was a great player and he's going to get his points in spurts," said Parker. "We told them we ain't going to let nobody else beat us...we was really keying on (Johnny) Salone, we felt like he was the X-factor of their team."
The Falcons led by 10 points at halftime and took their largest lead of the night midway through the third quarter with an 18-point advantage, never allowing the Mustangs to get the deficit back under 10 points the rest of the way.
A return trip to the finals has been an expectation this season for a loaded Falcons squad and it's a challenge the team accepts as they look to break through to earn the school's first title.
"We've been thinking about this for a year," Parker said. "The guys are hungry, ready to play, and they're determined."
Health Sciences faces Lackawanna at 12 pm on Saturday for the championship.
Health 16 - 7 - 15 - 17 = 55
Medina 9 - 4 - 9 - 15 = 37
Health Sciences: Kameron Briggs 18, Davonte Gaines 11, Tyron Lott 10, Tayvion Nelson 6, Josiah Haygood 4, Ja'lton Massy 3, Tysheen Lott 3
Medina: Jalin Cooper 16, Vincent Montague 7, Johnny Salone 6, Izaiah Rhim 5, Tyrellis Atkins 3
******** ******** ********
Lackawanna 62, Olmsted 49
The Steelers have dealt with a pair of injuries to key pieces this season that kept them from competing at full strength for much of the 2017 campaign. But with everyone at full strength on Thursday night in the Class B2 Semifinal against Olmsted, Lackawanna played like a well-oiled machine to advance to a sectional title game for the third time since 2011.
Tied 12-12 after one quarter of play, an 11-3 start to the second frame had Lackawanna up 23-15, before Steelers' sophomore Noah Grabar had a moment at the Buff State Sports Arena. Over the final 2:29 of the half, Grabar splashed from long range three straight times without a miss. Olmsted managed to counteract two of those with matching bombs by Gabe Carr-Johnson, but Grabar's surge lifted Lackawanna to a 34-23 advantage at the break.
"He's been doing it all season," Lackawanna coach Kevin Shaddle said. "Before he got hurt, in six games he was already at 35 3-pointers for the season...he's a very consistent shooter. It's not a freak shooting display, that's him."
Five quick points to begin the third quarter increased the Steeler lead to 39-23, before the Owls came storming back. Five points from Dan Reid (team-high 16 points), another trey by Carr-Johnson, and a three-point play from Austin Parham accounted for an 11-0 burst to make it a five-point game with 2:44 left in the frame, 39-34.
A timeout and an adjustment from Shaddle would get the Steelers refocused and back on track.
"We changed it up a a little bit, gave them a different look and got some quick turnovers and we were fortunate," Shaddle said. "It really did help us get our lead back."
An 8-2 finish to the third stanza restored a double figure lead heading into the fourth quarter, where the patience and execution of Lackawanna's offense continued to produce offense and drain the clock. Olmsted was never able to get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
"Our boys have really learned how to play good half court offense," said Shaddle. "And then when you get a little bit of a lead, turn it on and use your transition."
Grabar scored a game-high 20 points for Lackawanna, while London Smith and Haris Becric each added 11 points in the win.
Lackawanna is one game away from its first Section VI crown since 2011 when they defeated Newfane for a title in Class B1. However, the Steelers will have to get past 32 minutes of in-your-face defense from Health Sciences, the top ranked team from Class B2 all season.
"We're going to address their pressure defense," Shaddle said.
Lackawanna 12 - 22 - 13 - 15 = 62
Olmsted 12 - 11 - 13 - 13 = 49
Lackawanna: Noah Grabar 20, London Smith 11, Haris Bekric 11, Noble Smith 8, Carlton Treeths 5, Rob Rice 3, Jordan Pacillo 2, Juan Rodriguez 2
Olmsted: Dan Reid 16, Justin Evans 12, Gabe Carr-Johnson 9, Austin Parham 9, Naseem Baynes 3