Maybe, just maybe the somewhat new kid on the block could have sneaked up on St. Mary’s of Lancaster had Health Science not entered Wednesday night’s showdown ranked second among small schools in Western New York.
With a win over reigning Section VI Class C champion Middle Early College and an 8-1 record, there was no chance the upstart Falcons were going to catch last year’s Monsignor Martin Association Small School runner-up off guard.
The host Lancers put on a clinic before a standing-room only crowd as their defense took away lanes to the basket and forced Health Science into far too many poor outside shots while forcing several turnovers that led to easy baskets en route to a 68-37 victory.
Takal Molson scored 15 of his 25 points during the Lancers’ 38-9 first half, while Cameron Dunning added 11 points and Kayson Hill nine points and six boards. St. Mary’s improved to 9-1 with the win, setting up an intriguing home showdown Friday against Park, the News’ co-No. 1 Large School.
Turning point: Leading 8-7, it started off innocently enough but Daquan Hunt’s free throw sparked a 30-2 over the final 9 minutes, 21 seconds of the first half.
“We were moving and grooving,” coach Paul Rath said.
Molson’s three-pointer to end the first quarter made it 12-7. Dunning made a pair of layups during an 11-0 run interrupted by Tyron Lott’s layup with 5:51 left in the second. Who knew that would be the Falcons’ final points of the quarter? St. Mary’s long, fast defenders forced them into taking low-percentage shots from the outside while they’re in the half court. Since they couldn’t make any shots, the Falcons couldn’t set any press or trapping defenses to mount a comeback bid.
Player of the game: Molson, who also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Exclamation point: St. Mary’s closed the second quarter with a 19-0 run that featured back-to-back jams by Molson, including a thunderous putback that got a big rise out of the crowd of more than 400. The putback came after he had missed a dunk in transition.
About Health Science: The Falcons had a bad game, there’s no question about that. Still, they are young team that could potentially make some noise the next couple years. They start two freshmen and a sophomore, leading scorer Davonte Gaines (18 points per game, 8 rebounds). He was part of a Health Science junior varsity team that lost just once last year.
Health Science, which beat Middle College just before Christmas and gave East trouble last season in the playoffs, fell to 8-2 with both losses coming to members of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association.
Quotable: “That’s why we’re playing these game, … we’re just trying to get better,” said first-year Health Science coach Tyree Parker, who served as an assistant at Middle College the past five seasons. “This is going to help us grow for sectionals.”
Next: Health Science faces Buffalo Science at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Daemen College. St. Mary’s hosts Park at 7:30 p.m. Friday.