For the East High boys basketball contingent who may have wondered, “who’s Health Sciences?” the answer came in a big way on Tuesday.
The Charter School located on Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo took the Yale Cup mainstays to overtime before bowing, 67-62, in the Section VI Class B-2 semifinals. The game kept many in the crowd at Buffalo State on the edge of their seats throughout.
“We did escape, we were very lucky to come out of here with a victory,” said Starling Bryant, coach of No. 1 seeded East.
With 7 seconds left in regulation, Johnathon Lewis of East was fouled in the backcourt and made a free throw to tie the game at 54 and force overtime. Health Sciences took the ball out, but managed only a low percentage shot just inside halfcourt.
East exerted itself for the first time in the game during the overtime, starting the extra session on a 9-3 run. The Falcons were soon forced to foul and East prevailed.
“I don’t know if it’s a little bit that we underestimated them. I know I surely didn’t,” said Bryant, “but I think our kids were like, ‘who’s Health Sciences,’ and I kind of had that in the back of my mind. They kept hitting big three-point shots and they were just there like a pest, they kept coming and coming.”
East (17-3), the defending Class B-2 champions, will play the winner of tonight’s Cleveland Hill-Salamanca game at 5:30 p.m. The winner will play East in the B-2 match on Saturday at noon back at Buffalo State.
East was led in scoring by Percy Bryant with 23 points, including the first two baskets in overtime. Shawn Young and Damone Brown added 12 each and Lewis netted 10. Brown grabbed nine rebounds and Bryant handed out nine assists.
The game was the first since Dec. 29 for East’s 6-9 center Tyree Tyson, who suffered a torn knee ligament against Aquinas. He gave the Panthers some quality minutes in the second half, finishing with six points and three blocked shots.
Health Sciences was a quick team, but still was bothered by East’s fullcourt 2-2-1 press and its full-court trapping.
No. 4 seed Health Sciences ended its season 15-5. Allen Wright delivered with 23 points, including a 35-footer just inside halfcourt as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, electrifying the crowd. Carl Goodwin chipped in with 13 points and Aaron Day had 12.
“Wright has been a senior leader all year, he gave it his all. I’m proud of them, we’re a tiny, little charter school,” said coach Rick Mammoliti. “They had the height and we had to run with them, and the boys gave a heck of an effort.”
Class B-1 semifinals
Six-foot-2 junior Cam Voss had a career-high 11 blocked shots as Fredonia advanced with a 59-39 victory over Tonawanda.
“They were going up weak to the basket, and they really didn’t have a scorer that I was playing, so I was on help most of the night,” said Voss. “The defense we play is very tight and I know if lose my guy behind me, there will be another guy right there so I can step up and get the block.”
While Voss took care of business on defense, he also had 15 rebounds, Dylan Meyer carried the offense with 25 points. John Piper added 14 points for the Hillbillies.
“Nick Johnston did a great job on their point guard up front and when the ball went inside, Cam Voss did a great job controlling the paint and not giving anyone any good looks at the basket,” said Fredonia coach Richard Swanson.
Tonawanda was led by Tristan Boling’s 19 points.
In the other semifinal, Depew was overwhelmed by Olean, 73-29. Olean had four players in double figures, led by Sam Eckstrom with 14 points. He also had nine rebounds to break the school career record, held by Dean Edwards since 1991.
“Depew tried to slow the game down and use most of the 35 seconds, and we were able to get some rebounds and push it down the floor,” said Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. “I was really proud of the job Luke Hennessy did. I think he really controlled the tempo of the game.”
Depew was held to 12 points first half points. Derrick Sekuterski led the Wildcats (10-11) with eight points.
Fredonia (16-4) will play Olean (17-3) in the B-2 final. Fredonia, a Class B-2 school a year ago, lost to East in the final a year ago. Olean has won a sectional title in seven of the last eight years.