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Hind shines in leading Randolph past Bennett in Class C-2 final; Middle Early College is back on top

JAMESTOWN—Tyler Hind was feeling it.

Want proof?

On more than one occasion, the 5-foot-11 junior guard for Randolph held out his left hand and signaled to a Bennett defender to come closer – almost to the point of begging. When he lured the Tiger right where he wanted, he burned past him in a blink of an eye.

And in similar fashion, the Cardinals are Section VI boys basketball champions once again.

Hind scored a game-high 38 points, flashing his endless shooting range and ability to create around the basket as No. 2 seed Randolph crushed underdog fifth seed Bennett, 78-46, before an estimated crowd of more than 1,500 Friday night at Jamestown Community College.

Hind scored 22 points in the first half, including 18 of his team’s 20 during a sensational second quarter in which the Cardinals seized control for good after leading by just three after one quarter.

“After the first quarter I got into a rhythm, got a little bit of the jitters out and just started playing and didn’t think of anything else,” Hind said. “You can’t do anything without your teammates, but it was a good game.”

Randolph isn’t the only team to get reacquainted with that championship winning feeling again.

Middle Early College is back on top again as the top-seeded Kats captured their first Section VI title since 2016 in taking down defending champion and third seed Tapestry, 74-57, in the Class C-1 final. It’s the Kats’ seventh crown since 2010.

Middle College and Randolph will meet Tuesday at Buffalo State in the overall Class C final for the right to advance to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association quarterfinals.

“We just worked hard, did what we had to do offensively and defensively and came up with the win,” said senior Ja’kari Nettles, who finished with 16 points.

How much was Hind feeling it?

He hit nothing but net on a half-court buzzer-beating shot to end the second quarter, giving the Cards a 31-14 lead. It was a no-doubt-about-it shot that looked good as soon as he released it.

“Awesome, that was probably his dream shot,” said Randolph coach Kevin Hind, Tyler’s father. “He got going (in that second quarter). ... We talk about body language constantly.”

Tyler Hind didn’t just look confident. He played like he knew he was the best player on the floor in helping the Cardinals win their second C-2 title in three years. Hind shot 11 of 19 from the floor, including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. He made 11 of 16 free throws. Hind also finished with five assists and five rebounds.

On motioning/luring Tiger defenders closer while working the half-court offense: “The more they come out, the more room I have once I get by them so I got by them and could find shots for my teammates and myself,” Hind said. “They definitely pushed out a lot in that second quarter. Once I got past that it was free sailing.”

Gabe McCoy had 14 points and Kaleb Steward 13 for Randolph (18-5).

The loss ends somewhat of a feel-good season for Bennett. After not having enough kids to field a team due to an old plan to phase out the school (the plan has since changed with Bennett being rebooted), the team returned this year. Though the Tigers finished 8-11, they capped the campaign winning four of their last five. They reached the sectional final by taking out top-seeded Ellicottville in the semifinals, 63-59.

Davon Scott had 17 points to lead Bennett.

“It’s really a credit to our principals and leadership at the school,” Tigers coach Khalil Cottman Sr. said. “It means a lot ot make it to this point. We don’t even have any seniors.

“It’s painful to lose like this ... but at the end of the day we made it to the finals.”

Middle College seized control from the opening tip, bolting to an 8-0 lead on Nettles’ thunderous, jam off a Jamond Jones behind-the-back feed.  Nettles had six of his team’s 12 points in the quarter.

Although Tapestry pulled within 31-23 at halftime, it was all Kats with Traemelle Stevens-Richardson scoring eight of his team-high 20 points during a 24-9 third quarter.

Tariq Eubanks led Tapestry with 20 points, while Dorian Plummer had 13 as Middle College (19-4) devoted most of its defensive attention toward slowing down those two Thunder Hawks (16-7).

The sectional title is James Kane’s first as head coach of the Kats. He coached JV in 2016 when they captured the state title under coach Randall Rich.

“It feels awesome. ... These guys work hard every day so I’m happy for this group of kids,” Kane said. “They are committed to what we are coaching. They show up to practice every day and work hard so they deserve this, they deserve to be here.”

Middle Early College now has a chance to play for the overall Section VI Class C title after capturing the C-1 crown Friday. (Miguel Rodriguez)

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