Things didn’t go exactly according to plan for Middle Early College on Tuesday night, but that’s OK.
The Kats still found a way to come together and win the game that gets them a step closer to achieving their goal of punching a ticket to Glens Falls.
Four of Middle College’s six scorers reached double-digits as the five-time champion defeated first-time champion Olmsted, 69-62, in the Section VI Class C overall final at Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Joseph Staton and Billy Rivera each scored 14 points, while Amir Jemes and Gary Foster each added 13 for the Kats, who will next face the Section V champion at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Four guys in double-figures, relatively close in points? Where exactly did Middle College go wrong?
The plan was to get Staton involved early and often, especially since he’s coming off a 29-point performance in Friday’s Class C-2 final and averages 19 per game.
“Our team is unique,” senior Gary Foster said. “We have a lot of scorers. A lot of people don’t pay attention to Billy Rivera. We have a talented team. We just have to execute and work hard.”
While Staton did not get on the scoresheet until the second quarter and had only four points in the opening 16 minutes, that didn’t stop Middle College from bolting to a 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter. The 6-6 Foster led the way with five points, including a thunderous dunk, and three assists during that stretch. Jemes also chipped in four points as 6-5 Brian Johnson and 6-6 Lorenzo Truitt also scored key baskets in the paint.
But the dunk was a thing of beauty as Foster missed a free throw, grabbed the long rebound near the Owls’ bench and saw daylight to dribble between defenders and attacked the baseline for the two-handed jam.
“I just saw the open lane and I took it,” said Foster. “I had to make up for (the missed free throw).”
While the Kats were “struggling” while building up their lead, Olmsted couldn’t buy a basket until it started to mount a late charge behind senior Brandon Roach and sophomore Master Radford. Roach had five of his game-high 29 points during that stretch. Radford had four as the Owls trimmed Middle College’s lead to 28-23 by halftime.
The Kats responded with a 12-3 run to open the third quarter to shift into cruise control as it was another blitz that featured balanced scoring.
Any time Olmsted got within two possessions, Middle College responded by extending the lead.
While the Owls’ season ends, it was still one to remember. Olmsted, in its sixth season of competition, joined the list of Yale Cup teams to win a Section VI championship and the best could still be yet to come under the guidance of first-year coach Andrew Bush.
“Getting to this point, we’ve accomplished a lot this year,” Bush said. “Unfortunately it took us a while to get started. Middle College was incredible. Those bigs they have inside are men and we’re young inside. That was really a game changer.”