Middle Early College grabbed three offensive rebounds after winning the opening tip Tuesday at Buffalo State Sports Arena. The Kats held the ball so long during that opening possession they earned some cheers from the more than 1,000 fans in attendance even though they hadn’t successfully shot the ball through the hoop.
Middle College never relented with its rebounding, and once the team found its collective shooting touch it was game over for Randolph during the overall Section VI Class C championship boys basketball game.
Jamond Jones led all scorers with 22 points as he was one of eight players to score for the Kats, who owned the paint and shut down Cardinals star Tyler Hind during a 60-32 victory.
Jaedin Cottman added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Middle Early College, who reached Tuesday’s tilt by winning the Class C-1 crown last Friday at Jamestown Community College.
The Kats dominated inside so much that they grabbed a total of 41 rebounds. Cottman, who was part of Cardinal O’Hara’s Class B Federation runner-up team last year, grabbed six of the Kats’ 24 offensive rebounds as they dominated Class C-2 champion Randolph for the second straight year in the overall final.
“Our coach told us if we get more rebounds than them, we’ll win the game and that’s what we did,” Devonte Prince said.
“We’ve got seven seniors on this team,” winning coach James Kane said. “I knew I wasn’t going to have to worry about effort. It was just about taking Tyler away. I think we did a good job making things real difficult on them.”
While Middle College (20-4) collected more rebounds on offense than they did on defense, it should be noted the 17 defensive rebounds it collected were more than double the number of field goals (eighth) it yielded to a Randolph team that features one of the area’s top scorers in Tyler Hind. Hind, the section’s second-leading scorer at 26.0 points per game, finished with 13 in the final game of his career. He’s heading to Daemen College in the fall.
“Right off the bat, I mean I had Middle Early College at nine offensive rebounds in the first quarter,” Cardinals coach Kevin Hind said. “We couldn’t get a rebound. … They did a good job taking Tyler away. Give them credit, they played really physical and just kicked our butt today.”
The Kats did a great job guarding Hind, as someone wearing black and red constantly followed him on the court. Devonte Prince, Keyunte Jones, Jamond Jones were standing in his way, making it difficult for him to get loose.
“We knew he’s a really good shooter,” Jones said. “We just had to limit his shot and force other guys on the team to take shots. We just threw them a lot of different looks.”
“He’s a very good player. We knew we had to be on him at all times no matter what or else he’s going to hurt us,” Prince said.
Leading 5-4 with 2 minutes left in the first quarter, the Kats shook free of the Cards using a 13-2 run. Jones drained three treys during the spree. Cottman’s putback ended the blitz.
The Kats led 24-14 at the break and 43-22 after three thanks in part to a 16-4 run to open the second half in which Jamond Jones had nine points, including a one-handed jam, and Cottman eight points.
“I just kept playing hard … did what I had to do, grabbing the boards for my team,” said Cottman, who came in averaging 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. “Coming from another school and being able to do this I’m just glad I’m making an impact for my team.”
With the win, Middle College – last year’s state runner-up – returns to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Tournament where it faces the Section V champion in the Far West Regional at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at Buffalo State.
The Cardinals finish 22-2 with their only loss coming to Rochester East, a Class A-sized school.
While Hind’s scholastic career ends at Buffalo State, he’ll soon begin the next chapter at Daemen.
He finishes his career eighth on the Western New York all-time points list with 2,244.
“I’m just proud of him and everything he’s done,” said an emotional Kevin Hind, who is also Tyler’s father. “Just excited for his career and really happy.”