Ty Parker has been part of championship-winning outfits as an assistant but now he knows what it feels like to lead a boys basketball team to a scholastic title as a head coach.
Charter school Health Sciences captured its first Section VI championship Saturday afternoon, as the fourth-seeded Falcons defeated No. 3 Lackawanna, 63-48, before an estimated 1,500 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
The junior duo of Davonte Gaines and Tyron Lott, along with Health Sciences' relentless aggressive defense proved to be too much for the Steelers to overcome in their quest to win their first crown since 2011.
Gaines scored a game-high 27 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, blocked five shots and was simply a force at both ends of the floor, while Lott added 20 points.
The starters for the Falcons received standing ovations from their vocal fans and congratulatory fives from Parker when they departed the game with under 2 minutes to go.
The accolades were well-deserved for a Health Sciences crew that got rid of whatever lingering demons remained from last year's championship-game loss to Fredonia.
"Coach told us in the locker room to get it done this year," said Gaines, a 6-foot-6 Division I prospect who has offers from Kent State and Monmouth. "Last year left a sour taste. We waited a year to get here. … When time was ticking (off the clock), I was thinking we finally did it. … It feels great."
The Falcons (19-4) return to Buffalo State to play for the overall Class B championship on Tuesday, where they will face the Class B-1 champion – East Aurora.
Parker, who was part of Randall Rich's coaching staff at Middle Early College from 2010-14 during the Kats' runs to sectional and state championships, has a similar trapping defense he employs that is used by East's Starling Bryant – who by the way mentored Rich. That defense when executed properly makes an opponent's life miserable.
It did just that to a young Lackawanna team with just one senior as it committed roughly 20 turnovers, most of them after it tied the game at 15-15 in the second quarter.
That's when the Falcons switch defenses, springing traps on different parts of the court on ball handlers. The defense made the Steelers (17-6) uncomfortable, even when they did get the ball across the mid-court line.
Kameron Briggs' layup with 5:38 left in the half broke then tie. Tyron Lott scored six of his 11 first-half points during the run that included a putback jam by Gaines after a steal led to a fast break chance.
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"That team is a well-oiled machine," Lackawanna coach Kevin Shadle said. "They know their task. … They're fast, athletic, exactly what you look for in a championship team."
Gaines scored 13 of Health Sciences' 18 third-quarter points – including a three-point play where he's fouled but managed to sink a close-in, back-to-the-basket shot.
The Falcons weren't to be denied.
"We take pride in our defense," Parker said. "You have to score the ball but at the end of the day if the other team can't score, they can't win. We try to take them out of their comfort zone."
Parker said Saturday's championship moment wouldn't have been possible without Rich's influence.
"I wouldn't even here if not for Rich," Parker said. "He opened the door for me.
"It's a great feeling. Last year we came up short. … We went back to the drawing board, our goal was to get back here. I'm proud of the guys. They've bought into the concept of playing as a team. … I love my guys."