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Chautauqua Lake wins first-ever Class C boys title

JAMESTOWN - Time stood still for Devin Pope of Chautauqua Lake's boys basketball team on Tuesday night.

The Thunderbirds were nursing a good-sized lead in the fourth quarter of the Class C championship game, but Randolph was still within striking distance.

"It felt like the clock was stuck on five minutes to go for half an hour," Pope said. "I was getting nervous."

Finally, the time remaining hit all zeros. And for the first time in school history, Chautauqua Lake had won an overall class title. The Thunderbirds defeated Randolph, 58-48.

"It's been a great ride," said Pope who had 22 points. "I can honestly say every guy on this team is like a brother to me. We've dreamed about this for a long time. When it finally comes it's amazing."

It was an outstanding night of defense by Chautauqua Lake, holding the Cardinals  under 50 points. That was just what coach Michael Putney ordered.

"When Randolph played East, they played phenomenal defense," he said. "We said, 'Why not us?' Our sophomores really stepped it up. Kyler Majka, Alex Gleason, Brian Anderson - up from JV for the playoffs - and Joel Vinciguerra just hounded those guys and took them out of their game."

"They played amazing," Pope added. "They played their hearts out on the defensive end. They won us this game. They shut them down. We wanted to make some of their other players step up and score."

The Thunderbirds needed a little time to take control. Not much happened on either side in the first quarter, as the teams were tied at 9-9 after eight minutes.

But Chautauqua Lake turned up its offense in the next period, taking a 27-18 lead into the half.

"We sat at the end of the first quarter, and it was tied, and we told ourselves we wanted to keep going," Pope said. "We wanted to get to Saturday. So we kept putting pressure on defensively, and it was great."

When the Thunderbirds started the third quarter with a 10-4 burst, they had a 15-point lead and seemed to be in control. But Randolph kept slowly chipping away for the next several minutes. A 12-5 run in the middle of the fourth quarter got the Chautauqua Lake lead down to six with two minutes to go, and for a split second anything seemed possible.

Pope sank four free throws in four tries after that, and Majka added another. With that, the Thunderbirds were out of danger.

"They were going on all cylinders for a while there, but luckily we were able to finish it off," Pope said.

Aaron Swan had 17 points for the Thunderbirds. Jarrett Lecceadone finished with 19 for the Cardinals, but no one else was in double figures.

Now it's on to the Far West Regionals. CL will play a Section V team on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at Rush-Henrietta High School. The Thunderbirds figure there's no reason to stop now.

"Absolutely - we want more," Putney said. "We want to be able to take it right at them, and see what we could do.

"We're having fun."



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