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Olean, Depew, Wilson move along; Free throws key for Huskies, Lakemen

Riding the momentum of an overtime win the quarterfinals, Depew made key shots and got big rebounds Monday night, knocking off No. 2 seed Tonawanda, 49-37, a Class B-1 semifinal of the Section VI boys basketball tournament at Buffalo State.

Depew (8-5) will meet top-seeded Olean (13-0) in the B-1 finals at 1:30 p.m., Saturday after the Huskies gutted out a 48-44 win over East.

Meanwhile in the B-2 semifinal, Wilson erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to advance with a 51-48 win over City Honors.

In the final game of the evening, Depew took a 6-4 lead on a fast break layup by Mike Ballistrea and never trailed the rest of the game.

A steal and layup by Jon Gemerek with 4:30 left in the first half gave the Wildcats a 16-9 lead and plenty of momentum. Tonawanda wasn't ready to concede and it cut the lead to three, 36-33, on a nice jumper from Jesse Lalka, but Depew capitalized on offensive rebounds and converted backcourt turnovers to secure its lead.

The win comes after the Wildcats knocked off Dunkirk in overtime in the quarterfinals.

"The last three weeks we've been playing well," Depew coach Larry Jones said. "Early in the season we had our ups and downs. I didn't think we played well today, but we got the job done. We never had a comfortable lead tonight, but we play pretty deep on our bench and have some size."

Jaden Cotton scored 19 points for Depew while Lalka had 16 for Tonawanda.

Olean raced out to an 11-2 lead, but the game slowed up with plenty of turnovers. East played an aggressive zone defense which frustrated the Huskies and made enough offensive plays to challenge in the low-scoring game.

"I don't feel we ever got into a flow," Olean coach Jeff Anastasia said. "We uncharacteristically committed a lot of turnovers, but I give credit to our players. When that happens, there's a tendency to hang your head and we didn't."

Olean was 13 of 16 from free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nick Schmidt scored 13 points including going 10 of 10 from the line. Wil Bathurst added 15 points and Sam Eckstrom 10.

Rashaan Brown led East with 14 points.

In the B-2 semifinal, Wilson used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, tying the game on two free throws from Dustin DiLaura with 4:17 to play and taking the lead on a three-pointer by Liam McIntosh. But the key defensively began late in the third, when the Lakemen switched their defense to attempt to neutralize senior guard Jamaal Carter, who had had 23 points for City Honors.

"Carter is a great player and he was on fire today so we went to a box-and-one on defense and put different guys on him to wear him down," Wilson coach Brett Sippel said. "When we were able to get some stops, that gave us some confidence. This is a group that's been down before and they always believe they're in any game."

The Centaurs led by as many as 10 in the third quarter, going up, 46-36, with less than three minutes left. But Wilson chipped away, again cutting into the lead making it a 48-42 lead at the end of the quarter setting up the comeback in the fourth.

Martin finished with 17 points for Wilson (12-3) which advanced to Saturday's noon championship, where it will meet the winner of tonight's 5:30 B-2 semifinal between top-seeded Cleveland Hill and No. 4 Charter School for Applied Technologies.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com