By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
Silver Creek basketball coach Rob Genco has watched last season's Section 6 Class C crossover championship game more than 20 times.
It still never gets easier watching his Black Knights fall to OTC Middle College, 58-57, at Buffalo State.
While that tough loss is still fresh in Silver Creek's mind, the success it is having this season is making things a lot easier this year.
After losing seniors Jon Jimerson, Kevin Rocque and Frankie Brown to graduation, the Black Knights have picked up right where they left off and have reloaded for another run at the Section 6 Class C title and are currently ranked No. 2 in the state in the most recent New York State Sportswriters Association Class C poll.
While Zeddie Williams is clearly the heart of the team, it has been the arrival of 6-foot-7-inch sophomore Bill Brooks which has given Genco an inside presence the team did not have last year.
"We knew defensively and on the boards we would be better," Genco said of having Brooks. "We came in with high expectations and set realistic, but tough goals. I think Bill helps more so defensively. He alters shots. He gives us second-chance points. It takes some stress off Zeddie, too."
Brooks is on pace to break the school blocks record and rebounding record while Williams is well on his way to breaking the school scoring record.
Last season, the Black Knights were forced to have Williams defend the opposing team's post player. This year, with Brooks on the team, Williams can guard the opposing team's best athlete and use defensive specialist Kaine Kettle as a floater where he has been able to get many steals. All of that has led to Silver Creek running its uptempo offense which has averaged 81 points this season. The school record for average points in a season is 68.
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"We have a system and a style of play," Genco said of his offense. "You can't dribble the ball up the floor. That's for the street. When you come into this gym, this is how you play. It's Silver Creek style of basketball. The players bought into it. We like to run. What people don't know, we run 25 set plays, three zone motions and 15 different in-house plays. They aren't just playing run and gun. They retain a lot of basketball and they make me look good."
Along with Brooks and Williams, the Black Knights are receiving offensive contributions from Steve Marcey and Kaine Kettle. Marcey hit 47 treys last season while Kettle was clutch with 41 3-pointers of his own.
"I think Kaine is one of our better all-around players," Genco said. "He demands the ball a bit more. He can shoot like Steve Marcey and penetrate like Zeddie. He doesn't have size, but he can finish on the left or right side of the basket. You wouldn't know what hand he is. Defensively, he has a knack for steals. He will find ways to make things happen. When he is hot, no one on our team shoots better.
"I am very, very, very upfront," Genco said, turning his attention to Marcey. "I told him he wasn't good defensively last year, and he is great this year. His game is more complete than ever. Offensively, he does not miss an open 3-pointer. He is passionate about basketball. That kid who has grown up so much and matured. He is invaluable to have and irreplaceable."
The Black Knights are off to a 12-0 record this season and Genco is excited to see how his players progress the rest of the season. The schedule does not get any easier as the Black Knights will play Salamanca, Randolph and Portville in the coming weeks.
"We are looking to continue what we are doing," Genco said. "We have gone through the first half with an unblemished record. We know any given night you can drop a game. One goal is not to lose a game."
The last time the Black Knights had an undefeated season was 1960-61. They are halfway there.