Fredonia and Wilson showed the Western New York basketball world just what championship week at Buffalo State College is all about. The No. 3 Hillbillies held off a late-game charge by the No. 2 Lakemen on Tuesday to pull out a dramatic 53-48 victory in the Class B-2 semifinals.
The Hillbillies held a comfortable 41-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Wilson’s Kyle Bradley found a way to will his team back to within striking distance. After a three-pointer by the Lakemen pulled them within one, Fredonia junior Patrick Moore came up with a string of clutch plays to seal the deal for the Hillbillies.
Moore hit a layup with 50.3 seconds on the clock after forcing a steal on a Wilson defensive rebound to give Fredonia a 49-46 lead. Moore then came up with a block on Bradley at the other end before getting fouled and knocking down two free throws to put his team up five. Moore then converted another two free throws with 7.6 seconds to go to finish the game’s scoring.
“He had a great finish,” Fredonia coach Greg Lauer said about Moore. “He’s kind of stepping up and evolving here as this playoff push comes. And to step up and knock down four key free throws to keep them from ever really challenging for a tie was huge. His play was outstanding at the end.”
Moore led Fredonia with 20 points. Cam Voss was the only other member of the Hillbillies in double figures with 10. Wilson’s Bradley scored a game-high 30 points.
The East Panthers advanced to their sixth straight Section VI title game after a convincing 59-44 handling of top-seeded Cleveland Hill in the other B-2 semifinal matchup.
No. 5 East came out with a full-court press from the opening tip, which helped coach Starling Bryant’s experienced club force the majority of its nine steals. The Panthers also made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to its big men, who had a considerable size advantage over the Golden Eagles.
“Jovell” Littlejohn “goes 6-8 and they had a 6-1 guy on him, and he had some pretty good looking drop-step moves that got him about eight or nine points in that second quarter,” Bryant said. “Then they started double-teaming him and we were able to kick it back out and hit a couple of threes and some open looks.”