Balance and big plays. Lackawanna had just a little bit more of the two to beat Alden, 49-48, Friday night in the Section VI Class B-1 boys basketball quarterfinals.
Darren Cleveland's scoop-to-the-hoop drive with 40 seconds left gave the host Steelers a 49-47 lead and was just one of many contributions as Lackawanna held on to beat their ECIC IV rivals.
Dwayne Bennett had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead Lackawanna inside as he battled Alden junior big man Christian Barczykowski. Barczykowski was outstanding down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"There's nothing better than this," said Bennett. "We were going at it. [As a team] we tried to get it down low. It was tough."
Lackawanna (14-7) advances to take on top-seeded and No. 2 small school East Aurora (16-5) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State.
Lackawanna is ranked fourth among small schools and seeded fourth while Alden (16-5) is No. 9 in the small school poll and seeded fifth. The teams shared the league title after splitting their matchups, with each team winning at home, and their third battle lived up to expectations.
Alden delighted its enthusiastic crowd, which filled the section behind the Bulldogs' bench, with an 8-3 run -- capped by a Barczykowski putback -- that gave it a 39-37 lead with 5:08 left.
The game would be tied five times after that. While Alden went 3 of 6 from the line in the fourth, including two missed front ends of one-and-ones, Lackawanna got two-for-two trips from Dwight Barber and Cleveland in the last 2:23.
After Cleveland's go-ahead basket, Alden's Derek Delzer (12 points) was fouled with 11 seconds left and swished the first, but his second shot cruelly spun in and out.
After a missed Barber free throw with nine seconds left, Matt Schwartz missed a running three-pointer in the final seconds, and the rebound was being fought for as the buzzer sounded.
Cleveland, Barber and point guard Dondre Alexander each scored nine points while Jerrold Williams had one point but grabbed 11 rebounds. Will Peel had 12 points for Alden.