What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four
When: 5 p.m. Friday at Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena, Binghamton
Records: Niagara Falls 21-3, West Genesee 20-4
Rankings: Niagara Falls is ranked No. 3 in the Buffalo News’ Large Schools poll and No. 7 in the New York State Sportswriters’ poll. West Genesee is ranked No. 12 in the state poll.
How they got here: Niagara Falls defeated Section V champion McQuaid, 84-71, in the Far West Regionals on Saturday at Greece Athena High School. Willie Lightfoot led the Wolverines with 32 points and four assists, Jalen Bradberry added 16 points, Jaemon Turner 14 and Josiah Harris 13. Falls came out on the positive end of a thriller that hung in the balance until the Wolverines broke things open with a 16-3 run that spanned the final 53 seconds of the third quarter and opening 3 minutes, 9 seconds of the final period.
West Genesee rallied for a 70-55 overtime win over Section II champion Saratoga Springs. The Wildcats scored 44 points over the final 12 minutes, including 22 during the four-minute overtime. Will Amica led the winners with 25 points, and went coast to coast for the game-tying layup at the buzzer.
Niagara Falls key players: So. Jalen Bradberry, 6-3 (20.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.0 apg); Fr. Willie Lightfoot, 5-9 (18.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 2.0 steals, 41 percent from 3-point range); Sr. Josiah Harris, 5-9 (12.0 ppg. 3.0 apg, 45 percent from 3-point range); Jr. Jaemon Turner, 5-9 (11.0 ppg, 4.0 ap, 3.0 steals); Sr. Moran Montgomery, 6-0 (9.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
West Genesee key players: Sr. Lucas Sutherland, 6-7 (18.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 blocks); Jr. Will Amica, 6-0 (16.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.9 rpg); Sr. Jack McLane, 6-6 (8.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Scouting report: The Wolverines again will be at a size disadvantage as the Wildcats' lineup consists of three players, including Siena commit Sutherland, standing 6 feet, 6 inches or taller. Amica is a Division I prospect at point guard and is familiar with Lightfoot and Bradberry as they play on the same AAU team based out of Albany.
Although Falls won the regional, it lost the rebounding battle 38-23, yielding 20 offensive boards. The Wolverines can’t flirt with that type of danger against the Wildcats. “Defensive determination doesn’t end until you get possession of the ball,” Falls coach Sal Constantino said.
Look for Falls to push the pace to create offense via transition and to make West Genny uncomfortable. The Wolverines have had success shooting from the perimeter with three players shooting 38 percent or better from beyond the arc. If they’re able to do that against the 2-3 zone, it could be a long day for the Section III champion.
Next: The winner advances to the state championship game at 9 p.m. Saturday against either XI-Brentwood or IX-Kingston.