The beauty in Health Sciences' Far West Regional boys basketball triumph on Saturday can be found in one gigantic fact.
The Falcons achieved their season-long objective of returning to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association final four. It doesn't matter they did it by winning a game that was rather ugly on the eyes.
Health Sciences earned the right to compete in the state semifinals for the second year in a row and did it by defeating Section V champion Greece Odyssey, 52-46, in Class B before an estimated 2,000 Saturday afternoon at Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Davonte Gaines recorded game highs of 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Josiah Haygood and Kameron Briggs each hit big shots in key moments to lead the News' top-ranked small school into Friday's semifinal clash at Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton against either III-Westhill or IV-Seton Catholic. The Central Regional is Sunday in Binghamton.
Health Sciences (21-4) triumphed despite committing 20 of the game's 37 turnovers and shooting just 39.2 percent from the floor.
"We came out a little slow, but we turned it up in the second half," said Haygood, who scored seven of his 11 points during the opening 16 minutes to stake his team to a 25-17 edge at halftime.
"It means a lot (to return to final four)," Haygood said. "We've got to win the whole thing this year. We're not trying to come up short like we did last year."
Last year, Health Sciences didn't play its best defensive game in state semifinals and saw its promising season end, 67-55, to Section X's Canton.
The defense has more than done the job the past two games.
The 'D' kept the Leopards to 28 percent shooting in the first half (7 for 25) and 32.8 percent overall after they had shot pretty well (47.8 percent, including 66.7 percent in first half) from the floor in their overall Class B final triumph over Livonia last Monday. Health Sciences also limited Olean to just 34 points during the overall Section VI Class B final last Tuesday.
"It's not always an offensive game," said Briggs, who finished with 10 points. "It's an up and down game. We had the lead for 31 minutes so we just kept holding the ball and scoring."
Haygood scored the first five points of the second quarter for Health Sciences, which led by just 13-12 after eight minutes. That helped spark a 10-2 run that enabled the Falcons to get a little separation.
"I had to step up this game because we had to win this game to go to states," said Haygood. "I just took my shots, and they went in."
So did Briggs, when it mattered most.
With Health Sciences' 15-point lead whittled to 42-36, Briggs drained a three with 2:45 left that restored order in the world of the Falcons.
"I wasn't going to take it but he left me open," Briggs said. "I shot it and it felt good coming off my hands. I saw it go in and I knew it was over. We were going to pull it out and run time out but the defender didn't run out on me so I shot it."
"I'm happy with our guys," Falcons coach Ty Parker said. "They toughed it out."
Story topics: Health Sciences