The Class B portion of Championship Saturday at Buffalo State Sports Arena turned into two milestones, with one victory each for Olean and Allegany-Limestone.
Fittingly enough both will have to go through each other to earn the opportunity to attain more postseason memories.
Unbeaten News No. 1 small school Olean added to its collection of Section VI championships by defeating City Honors, 61-48, in the Class B-1 final, played before an estimated crowd of more than 1,000. Senior Mike Schmidt led the Huskies with 13 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and two steals, while Matt Droney finished with 19 points and 11 boards.
Not only did Olean capture its 11th sectional title in 13 years, Western New York’s all-time winningest coach Jeff Anastasia collected his 600th career victory in the process.
“It’s unbelievable,” Schmidt said. “This is all me and my teammates have been talking about all year, just working to get to this point. To get him this milestone is something special.”
In the B-2 final, Allegany-Limestone (19-3) pulled away with ease from Olmsted (17-6), riding a stingy second-half defensive effort to a 50-29 win.
The title is the first since 2011 for the Gators and first for coach Glenn Anderson, who secured his 100th career victory in the process.
“It’s great and it’ll be even better when we’re in the locker room screaming like a bunch of crazy guys,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty cool. Kind of storybookish. ... Credit to these guys. We won 16 last year and 18 or 19 this year. That’s almost a third of them.”
The champions meet for the overall Class B crown on Tuesday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena, with the winner advancing to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament.
Olean (23-0) players knew what was at stake heading into Saturday. They knew Anastasia was one win away from 600. They entered the season with the idea that the big 6-0-0 would be possible during the playoffs so long as they took care of business on the court.
They did just that against an upstart City Honors team looking to win its first sectional title since 2008. The Huskies raced to a 20-9 lead through one quarter as Droney scored eight points in the quarter. In the second quarter, Schmidt took over with a couple of “oh my” dribble drives to the basket. The best of the bunch was one in which he was slightly off-balance but finished with an underhand scoop to make it 24-13 early in the second quarter.
“I talked to my team the other day and I said ‘I know you saw it in the newspaper that my next win would be my 600th win,' ” Anastasia said. But, he told his team, “It’s not about me. It’s never been about me. This is all about you guys winning a sectional championship and adding to your legacy."
At that point, Anastasia recalled, "Mike Schmidt said ‘coach, we’re all in this together.’ All I wanted the guys to do was to come in and continue their legacy and win the sectional championship. They did that and it just so happened to be my 600th win.”
Jaden Slaughter took game scoring honors with 21 points for City Honors (19-4).
Saturday’s win not only produced another milestone for Anastasia but it might have extended his career by a game. There’s chatter that this could be the longtime Olean coach’s final season. He hasn’t made any decisions about his future.
Schmidt’s been on the team since the Huskies won the state title in 2016, while Anastasia’s nephew Josh Bihler is a senior.
“I wanted to go out with Josh and this group. I definitely was going to do that if my wife (Barbara) hadn’t passed (last year),” Anastasia said. “I’m undecided, but this could be it.”
Standing in the way of another trip to states will be a tough familiar foe in Allegany-Limestone. A/L dropped a 65-49 decision to Olean at the IAABO Tournament around Christmas.
Sam Flanders was among three players in double-figures for A/L, scoring a team-high 12 points to go with four assists. Casey Curran added 11 points and three steals, and Connor Golley 10 points and 15 rebounds.
While the offense was kind of on the fritz for the Gators, their defense proved to be overwhelming as they held the Owls to just 11 points during the final 16 minutes.
“It’s an incredible feeling (winning the title),” Flanders said. “I’ve been working for this since I was a freshman.”