McKinley got four players in double figures, a huge momentum-aiding dunk to end the third quarter and several key transition baskets to beat East, 61-56, in a key early showdown in Yale Cup Division I boys basketball.
The Macks had a slight lead most of the game and built enough of a cushion to remain undefeated at 5-0 and 3-0 in league play in what was a rematch of last year's Class A-2 championship won by East.
"This is big for us because we haven't really played anybody as tough and as strong as East," said McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey. "I told the team before the game that it was the biggest game of their lives to date."
Senior Antonio Avery had the two most spectacular points in his 11-point game on a fast-break, two-handed dunk in the final seconds of the third quarter to give McKinley a 41-36 lead heading to the fourth.
Senior Dajuan Rutledge had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including four transition baskets that came off his steals or East turnovers against the Macks' defense. McKinley maintained a five-point lead for much of the final quarter.
John Black had a strong game inside with 15 points while Anthony Sanders added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Macks.
Senior Jasen Oden led East with 15 points, including back-to-back three-pointers in the third quarter to tighten up the game after the Macks had gone up, 34-24.
The teams meet again at East on Feb. 3.
Elsewhere in Yale Cup I:
After a brutal third quarter in which Hutch-Tech was outscored by 11 points, coach Dave Rappl had one message for his team in the fourth.
"Get Maurice the ball."
Senior Maurice Miles exploded for 12 points in the final stanza to lift the Engineers (4-3, 2-1) over Bennett, 62-55. Miles finished with 29 points and 21 rebounds.
"He went off," Rappl said. "He averages a double-double but this was his best game. I'm a very happy man. It's nice to have a Maurice Miles on your team."
Bennett (4-3, 1-2), led by William Vanoy (18 points), tied the game at 43-43 with a big third quarter. But then, Miles consistently got to the basket and made 6 of 7 free throws in the fourth.
"Maurice just carried us," Rappl said. "He took over."
Demetrius Stokes (16 points, 12 rebounds) hit one of two free throws with one second left to give Emerson a 48-47 win over visiting City Honors in Division II. It was poetic justice for Gary Raimondo's Eagles, who had suffered a last-second loss to MST Seneca in their previous game.
Canisius, the No. 4 ranked large school in Western New York, won its third straight Monsignor Martin Association game, blowing the game open in the third quarter of an 84-61 victory over St. Mary's of Lancaster. The Crusaders, who led by 10 at the half, expanded their advantage to 20 in the third.
Adam Weir led Canisius with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, Aaron Nevins had 15 points and eight assists while Gordon Lyons contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Kyle Kobis scored 26 points as undefeated Bishop Timon-St. Jude routed Williamsville East, 72-43, to go to 9-0.
"They were without out one of their better players [6-foot-5 Eric Stolzenburg] but we played well," said Timon coach Jim Palano. Kobis had nine of his points in the third when the Tigers enjoyed a 25-8 advantage over the host Flames.
"Now we've got a big test Thursday with St. Joe's coming in," Palano said.
In the Niagara Frontier League, big plays late lifted Kenmore West (5-2, 3-2) over Niagara-Wheatfield, 60-58. Down by four with a minute to go, Kenmore West's Martin Bailey made a steal and scored. The Blue Devils forced another turnover to score again. Then, with 10 seconds left, Ryan Grandits drained two free throws to give his team the win.
Bailey finished with 23 points and four steals, and Grandits had 24 points. Jake Hughes finished with 18 for Niagara-Wheatfield (4-4, 3-2).
In ECIC I, 6-foot-8 Tyler Funk poured in 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Clarence over host Orchard Park, 71-52.
Matt McCormick had 17 points for the Quakers.
In the Niagara-Orleans League, Akron (1-8) earned its first win when sophomore Connor Ladd hit a jump shot at the buzzer for a 39-37 win over Barker. Ladd had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
St. Mary's won the battle between the Nos. 1-2 ranked small schools in The Buffalo News poll, 64-57, over visiting Immaculata. Maria Rosati delivered with a career-high 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the No. 1 Lancers forced 25 turnovers to pick up their 10th win.
St. Mary's led by as few as four points and as many as 13 in the second half against the stubborn Bears. "We told the girls during every timeout they're a good team and they aren't going to quit," said coach Keith Junik. "That's part of playing a good team. They ran some real nice sets. We just kept the pressure on."
Raeann Stilwell had 13 points and Victoria Fontana added 11 for the Lancers (10-5, 2-0). Chelsey Rogowski of Immaculata (10-5) led all scorers with 19.
Tenth-ranked large school Williamsville East kept its ECIC II slate clean (5-0) with a 51-39 win at Iroquois. The Flames dominated the boards as Mackenzie Klun (16) and Bailey Weigel (14) combined for 30 rebounds. Weigel has 16 points while Shannon Hughes added 13 for East.
Behind a stingy defensive effort, Hutch-Tech (3-4, 2-0) defeated Bennett, 38-25, in their Canisius Cup game. In the second quarter, the Engineers used a halfcourt trap that held Bennett to only two points.
"That set the tempo for us," Hutch-Tech coach Dave Sardo said. "We play 10 kids, roll them in and out and they're really committed to running hard. We like to attack, attack, attack on defense which is a good thing because we were off shooting tonight."
Leading the defensive pressure up top was Danette Laguerre, who had 12 points and eight steals. Brittnee Perry added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Laguerre got most of her steals in man-to-man defense.
"She drove their guards crazy," Sardo said of Laguerre. "She's a strong one-on-one defender."
Elsewhere, Erica McDaniel scored 21 points and pulled in 12 rebounds to lead McKinley (4-1, 2-0 Canisius Cup) past East, 62-52. Dae'sha Thomas of the Bobcats (4-4, 2-1) led all scorers with 26 points.
South Park won its first in league play, defeating Lafayette, 36-25, as Monica Neumeister led the way with 17 points and Sierra Seymour had 13. Tia Onipeda had 13 points for the Mighty Violets.
Holland won its sixth in a row in ECIC IV, overpowering Tonawanda, 50-28, behind a 25-point performance by Candis Kapucinski. Rebecca Doster had 10 rebounds for the Dutchwomen.