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Johnson's 43 points carries West Seneca West past South Park, into Far West Regionals

With a trip to Far West Regionals on the line, West Seneca West's Juston Johnson did what he does best before the folks at Buffalo State Sports Arena: He attacked the basket.

The junior point guard drew the foul and got to the free-throw line where he hit nothing but net on his two shot attempts.

Those final points not only gave West the lead for good but capped a career night for Johnson, as the unbeaten Indians (24-0) survived and advanced once again, this time repelling a comeback from South Park to capture the overall Section VI Class A boys basketball championship, 81-79, Tuesday night.

An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 watched as Johnson drove to the basket with reckless abandon and drained the three with ease as he finished with a career-high 43 points. The effort came on the heels of his 38-point outburst in which he scored six of those points in the final 66 seconds of last Saturday's four-overtime win over Williamsville South in the Class A-1 final.

Adrian Baugh added 19 points, 18 rebounds and five assists as West Seneca West maintained its poise during a frantic final minute to advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association quarterfinal Saturday against the Section V champion at 7 p.m.

"We fought hard and gave it everything we had," West coach Des Randall said. "(We) hit a spot where we ran out of gas. … I'm just glad we could push through, be battle tested and win games like this."

West won it by making sure its best player had the ball in his hands in crunch time. After David Stroud's layup with 47 seconds left tied the game at 76-76 for South Park (14-10), Johnson got the ball in his hands and attacked the hoop. Once the whistle sounded seconds later, folks knew Johnson's next destination was the free-throw line. He hit both shots to cap an 18-for-19 day at the stripe.

"I just got the ball and Des told me to attack," said Johnson of the instructions he received from coach Randall, who is also his older brother. "I just tried to do what I do best."

"He attacks it with conviction and when you go that hard and you fight through the bumps and reaches and have a strong base, it puts you at the free-throw line or a layup," Randall said. "What makes it better is that he can shoot the ball so well. … So it's like you can't back up. You get too close he can attack the basket."

Johnson, who also finished with five rebounds and five assists, drained six of his seven three-pointers during a first half in which he scored 30 points to stake West to a 50-40 lead.

But the Sparks, who came into Tuesday having won nine of their last 11, refused to stay down. Anthony Mack scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the second half for South Park, which had four players in double figures. Ray Mushat added 21 for the Class A-2 champions, who won their first sectional title since 1985 but had hoped to join Class D champion East as the second Yale Cup team to advance to regionals.

Trailing 79-76 after a Baugh free throw, South Park turned it over out of bounds. It tried to steal, but Johnson dribbled away from pressure and found an open Alex Wayland for a layup with 6 seconds left. The Sparks hit a three with 1 second left for the final margin.

"They're undefeated for a reason," said South Park coach Pete Hudecki of West. "I thought my boys played very hard. I don't think anyone in this gym had us getting it this close."

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