By Michael Petro
Special to the News
West Seneca West rode its offensive prowess all the way to the program’s first Far West Regional appearance. On Saturday evening, the Indians went cold and had their worst night shooting this season, leading to the end of a dream 2017-18 campaign.
West suffered its first loss of the season, falling 67-49 to defending Class A state champion Irondequoit in the Far West Regionals at Buffalo State College. Irondequoit will return to the state’s public school Final Four on March 16-18 at the Floyd Maines Arena in Binghamton.
“That’s what we do: We make shots, penetrate and finish, and if we get stopped, we finish at the basket. We’ve got guys who knock down shots but they didn’t fall tonight,” West first-year coach Desmond Randall said.
West (24-1) went long stretches in the first half without scoring and then, down eight points early in the fourth, went four minutes without points to seal its fate. The Eagles stretched a lead that was at one point 33-16 early in the third quarter to 20 points with just over three minutes to play.
“They’re long and athletic and can contest things, but I still thought the shots were there and they just didn’t fall for us,” Randall said. “They’re a team that lines up and says, ‘This is what we do, beat us,’ and you don’t beat them if you don’t make shots.”
Meanwhile, Irondequoit, which had to replace four of five starters from last year’s team, moved the ball well all game and as a result got a number of easy buckets. A balanced effort was led by 6-foot-5 junior Gerald Drumgoole, who scored a game-high 23 points, while Patrick Thomas, who missed 10 games earlier in the season, added 16 and Robert Diaz-Judson, 11.
“We’ve got five guys that can score,” Irondequoit coach Chris Cardon said. “We like to share the ball and move the (opponent’s) defense. We felt they were pretty good defensively so if we only made one or two passes we weren’t going to get a good shot.”
West junior Juston Johnson, who went for a combined 81 points in wins over Williamsville South and South Park as West won the Section VI Class A title, finished with a team-high 22 points but was held to four in the first half.
“You’re not undefeated for nothing,” Cardon said. “Juston came back and had a great second half. The thing that makes them tough is that they have great shooters.”
West was also hurt by junior forward Adrian Baugh being in foul trouble for much of the game. Baugh finished with 11 points.
The Indians caused 22 turnovers using their full-court press but could only manage a few spurts offensively.
“If we don’t make shots, it doesn’t allow us to set up our press and do what we do well, so we didn’t create the pressure that we normally create,” Randall said.
He added, “One thing I don’t want this loss to do is take away everything we accomplished this year. Nobody else in the area was 24-0. We conquered everyone they put in front of us in Buffalo.”
Story topics: West Seneca West