GLENS FALLS — This year’s Olean basketball team will be remembered as one of the best in Section VI history.
Its three-year run came to an end Saturday night against a team, and a player, which put forth one of the greatest performances in state playoff history.
Westhill junior Jordan Roland scored 32 of his 41 points in a phenomenal first half in which the Warriors outscored Olean, 49-18, all but settling what would end up a 93-55 victory in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B championship game.
An estimated 2,500 in the Glens Falls Civic Center were either gasping at Roland’s first-half shooting performance (12 for 14 from the field and 6 of 7 from three-point range) or murmuring to each other in between his shots.
Westhill took a 22-12 lead after one quarter before the show really got going in what would be a 27-6 second that left Olean trailing by 31 at the half.
“It was just unbelievable. I’ve never seen a team or individual shoot like that in my 30-some years of coaching basketball,” said Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. “They never slowed down. They just kept going.”
Westhill shot 70 percent from the field in the first half (19 for 27) while it was 9 of 12 on three-pointers (75 percent). The 6-foot-1 Roland repeatedly elevated high on his jump shot, swishing threes or hanging jumpers despite good defense from several different Huskies.
It was a surreal performance, and Olean senior Wil Bathurst described it in very much that way.
“It was almost like my body was there but my mind was somewhere else,” said Bathurst. “It was like I was looking down on myself on the court from up there in the rafters somewhere, watching the game unwind and watching this kid hit shot after shot after shot. We’re playing good defense, hand in his face, and it just doesn’t seem to matter, he just keeps hitting shots.
“Just keep looking at the scoreboard – first it’s five, then its 10, then it’s 20, and it gets to a point that you know that that’s it, and all you can do is keep fighting.”
Roland scored just nine points in the second half – at one point, he passed up a jumper and the crowd groaned in disappointment – leaving him short of the state final four record of 47 points (achieved by Jamesville-Dewitt’s Bernard Blut in 1990 and Hamilton’s Adonal Foyle in 1994). Roland’s seven three-pointers is one short of the tournament record, set by Norwich’s Charlie Wightman in 1993.
While Roland cooled off, 6-5 junior Tyler Reynolds continued the Warriors’ staggering shooting performance, scoring 27 of his 38 points in the second half. For the game, Section III (Syracuse area) champion Westhill (25-0) was 36 of 56 from the field (64 percent) and 14 of 21 from three (67 percent). After three quarters the score was 76-42.
“I just felt like if we took care of the ball on a few more possessions offensively and just kept it a little closer … I don’t know,” Anastasia said, “but the way that they shot I don’t think it really would have made a difference.”
Olean (21-4) won three Section VI Class B championships with the same core group of four senior starters of Bathurst (17 points) and fellow All-Tournament Team selection Sam Eckstrom (13) as well as Nick Schmidt (eight) and point guard Luke Hennessy (12).
“It’s a time of the season that I was dreading the most because I just did not want to say goodbye to these guys,” said Anastasia, following a meeting with his emotional locker room. “I love these guys. ... I told them, what you’ve accomplished the last three and four years is phenomenal.”