The ideal exit strategy for Dominick Welch during Monday night's Cheektowaga triumph would have been for the returning All-Western New York first team forward to take a seat following a thunderous transition dunk.
It didn't happen due to the hustle efforts of a defender, who snuck in from behind to knock the ball away from Welch as he was about to leap to the basket.
"I wanted it to happen but it didn't," Welch said. "It was all good."
It most certainly was – for Welch and his Warriors teammates as the starters watched the reserves put the finishing touches of a regular-season sweep of their town rivals.
Cheektowaga kept its chances of earning a share of the ECIC III boys basketball title alive by running away from host Maryvale, 73-47. Welch scored 16 of his game-high 26 points after halftime as Cheektowaga improved to 11-7 overall but 9-1 in the division.
The Warriors and East Aurora each have one league loss. The Blue Devils have played one more game, though, as the teams split their two division games.
As Cheektowaga chases a division crown, Welch continues his pursuit of one of the area's most hallowed records. In a season in which Jeff Anastasia of Olean broke the Western New York record for career wins, Welch now needs 141 points to break the all-time scoring record of 2,355 points set by 1990 News Player of the Year Ritchie Campbell.
Cheektowaga has at three games left (counting one playoff game). The more the Warriors win, the better the odds of Welch having a chance at setting the mark – perhaps during Championship Week at Buffalo State.
But that's not what Welch is focusing on at the moment. He wants two division wins this week since it's been a while since Cheektowaga has captured an ECIC title.
"If I get the record then I get the record; It would feel good," said Welch, who is now averaging 28.1 points per game. "I know my teammates want me to get it but if it doesn't happen … I just want my team to win."
That was evident Monday as Welch played a fine all-around game as he grabbed 16 rebounds, dished out eight assists and made four blocks. Maryvale used a box-and-one and some triangle-and-two against Welch, but he calmly found open teammates who buried their shots.
That included Rudy Bragg, who scored eight of his 13 during the first half – including a pair of threes – to help the Warriors to a 29-22 halftime lead. Adrian Baugh had a three-pointer and jumper during Cheektowaga's game-opening 9-0 run.
Stephan Parker grabbed 10 rebounds and chipped in eight points for the winners.
"Obviously everyone knows about Dom, that's not in question," Warriors coach Pat Cullinan said. "The supporting cast we have is pretty good. If everyone is doing their job and role, we can do some things."
They did lot of things via the run- as a tall, athletic team built a 27-15 second-quarter lead thanks to its transition ability.
The undersized Flyers (13-6, 6-5) did a good job getting to the line before the end of the half to pull within 29-22, as Ray Blackwell (four steals) scored 13 of his 19 during the opening 16 minutes. But Maryvale struggled from floor throughout – hitting just two three-pointers – to give Cheektowaga plenty of chances to run.
"They just wore us down," Flyers coach Mark Kensy said. "They were on a mission. We hung with them a little bit. Then things just snowballed."
Welch scored seven points and had two assists during the third quarter. That included a sweet turnaround three from the left corner that was out of his hands almost as fast as he received the pass. The Warriors took a 44-32 lead into the fourth, pulling away with 30-point frame during the final eight minutes.
They thrived in transition, pulling away for good when the Flyers tried to make a run. That almost included another highlight-reel dunk from Welch with just over 2 minutes left.
That didn't happen, but it's still all good for the Warriors, who return to action at home Wednesday against Lake Shore.
"It's always a great atmosphere (at Maryvale)," Welch said. "I love playing here. … We came in here, did our job and got it done."
Story topics: Dominick Welch