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High School Extra (Jan. 18): Middle Early College leads Yale Cup I

"A wise man once told me: 'We don't rebuild here. We just reload'" Middle Early College boys basketball coach Randy Rich said Tuesday after his Kats defeated East, 67-64, to take sole possession of first place in Yale Cup Division I.

The "wise man" Rich was referring to was his former coaching boss, Starling Bryant of East. Rich served as Bryant's assistant coach for three seasons at Traditional (2000-03).

Bryant was not on hand to coach East in Tuesday's game, missing his second straight game to attend to personal matters.

"He was missed," Rich said. "It's not the same without him." Assistant coach Willard Anderson ran the team in Bryant's absence.

The Kats and East's Panthers each came into the game undefeated. Middle College is now 6-0 in Cup play while East dropped to 5-1 and in a tie with South Park for second place.

Rich's team won despite limited play by point guard Nader Ngoopas Kompany, who played only about five minutes because of a sore knee. Hakeem Dobbins, who is more of a shooting guard, took over at the point and had a career-high nine assists to go with 15 points.

"Dobbins played great offensively and defensively," Rich said.

Four Kats scored in double figures led by Derrick Bishop with 17 points. Shawn Goree had 14 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots. Aziyon Clemons added 13 points while Nathyia Jackson collected 10 rebounds.

MEC closed fast scoring eight of its 12 fourth-quarter points in the final minute of the period.

Willard Anderson topped the scoring for East with a game-high 19 points.

Rich coached Middle Early College to the Yale Cup title in 2014. McKinley has won the title the last two seasons, but MEC has reloaded and happy to back on top.

"It's been a while," Rich said.

Cheektowaga knocks off East Aurora

Dominick Welch scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter leading a Cheektowaga rally past visiting East Aurora, 53-44.  It was the first loss for the Blue Devils and created a first place tie with Cheektowaga in ECIC III.  Cheektowaga outscored the visitors 15-8 in the final period.

"We needed this one," said Cheektowaga coach Pat Cullinan, who challenged his Warriors in the fourth quarter and saqw them come through. "It was just who wanted it more," Cullinan said. "We worked hard the last five minutes, hustled all over the place, got some putbacks and made life difficult for them. And, Dominick made a couple of big shots with guys draped all over him."

Welch had 12 rebounds and four blocks in addition to his scoring.

Nick Montgomery led EA with 15 points.

South players reach 1,000 points

Greg Dolan of Williamsville South scored 20 points and went over the 1,000 mark for his career in a 73-42 triumph at Williamsville East. Meanwhile Zaria McCullough of South scored 19 points get to 1,000 points even in a 64-29 girls basketball rout of visiting Williamsville East.

Faller, Chimera honored

Sweet Home boys lacrosse coach John Faller and Kenmore West softball coach Matt Chimera were among 21 Coach of the year Award winners from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association selected  for consideration by the National Federation of State High School Associations for regional and national honors.  Seven from the NYSPHSAA but none from Western New York were selected for Region One Coach of the Year Honors  and three of those went on to national Hall of Fame honors.

Faller, who is also Sweet Home football coach, has announced he will retire after the 2017 lacrosse season.

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