The B-1 classification of the Section VI boys basketball tournament has turned into the home for upsets.
The No. 1 seed, Burgard, and third-ranked Medina were the latest to fall. The powerful Bulldogs dropped a 62-56 decision to No. 4 Albion on Wednesday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. That game was followed by Maryvale, the 10th seed, knocking off No. 3 Medina, 46-43.
The winners will play in the same location Saturday at 1:45 p.m.
The first game’s result was something of a surprise to everyone but the Albion roster.
“We played them before, and they beat us by 13,” Eagles coach Brennan Meakin said. “But they didn’t have a couple of players from that game tonight, so we knew we could play with them. In the postseason, anything can happen.”
If there was any doubt of that, Albion made that point in the first few minutes. The Eagles scored the game’s first five points and pulled away at the end of the first quarter in taking a 19-9 lead. The margin was still comfortable at 33-25 at the half.
But Burgard was mostly responsible for its own problems in the first 16 minutes, taking bad shots and committing too many turnovers. Meakin figured the Bulldogs would put on a run.
“Burgard has a tough team. I have a lot of respect for them,” he said.
Sure enough, the Bulldogs used their quickness to go on a 17-2 burst in the final minutes to take the lead. Had Albion’s bubble burst?
Hardly. The Eagles scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to regain control. When Burgard threatened to get close, Desmond Blackmon (16 points) took charge by scoring seven points in the last two minutes.
“I want to be a clutch player at the end,” he said. “We got the film, studied them, and worked hard to get where we are.”
Zion Hall led Burgard with 13 points.
The second semifinal didn’t exactly feature a classic route to victory for Maryvale, as the Flyers scored exactly two points in the fourth quarter … and still won. That’s mostly because they gave up only six points.
Maryvale coach Mark Kensy has seen his team do that before, but knows it’s far from common.
“We preach defense all the time,” he said. “We know they had some size, but our kids just battled. We threw a couple of different defenses at them, but in the end it comes down to playing great man defense.”
Both teams probably figured out early that points would be precious. Neither could score in the first three minutes of play. Finally, Andrew Cromble closed the first quarter by scoring nine straight points for the Flyers, single-handedly giving them a 9-3 run in the final 2:05 of the period and a 13-9 lead. Crombie finished with a game-high 15 points.
Medina got its last lead of the game at 14-13 on a three-pointer by Devonte Howard. But Maryvale responded with a 10-2 run and pushed ahead to a 27-20 lead at the half.
A 7-2 run to start the third quarter put the Flyers’ lead in double digits. Medina finally found its long-range shooting touch in the middle of the third quarter, scoring three straight times on three-pointers – two of them by Justin Morgan. But Maryvale answered enough times to get the lead to 44-37 after three quarters.
Medina had a couple of chances to tie the game in the final seconds, but couldn’t get it done. Ray Blackwell made a steal at halfcourt with about four seconds left to wrap it up.
At the buzzer, Maryvale had struck again with its third straight upset in sectional play.
“Our motto is that good defense wins championships,” Kensy said. “We took a look at the bracket and honestly thought it was a coin flip. It’s just a matter of getting hot at the right time. Even in our darkest days, the kids hung in there.”
Jalin Cooper led Medina with 12 points.