JAMESTOWN - The second-seeded Sherman Wildcats had not used the triangle-and-two defense all season.
It turns out that coach Cory Emory was saving it for the perfect moment.
That moment came Friday during the second half of Sherman's 40-27 victory over top-seeded Brocton in the Section 6 Class D boys basketball championship game at Jamestown Community College.
OBSERVER Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Brocton’s Jordan Patterson (23) works around a Sherman defender during their Section 6 Class D boys basketball final at Jamestown Community College, on Friday.
"I said all year teams would be crazy not to triangle-and-two us," Brocton coach Jeff Franze said. "That's what they did and we needed other players to make shots and they didn't make them. They took away Jordan Patterson and Dan Ferguson (with that defense). We tried some different things. We just didn't execute very well. They made the 3s and we didn't. Deep down, I knew if they went triangle-and-two, we would have to make some 3s. I am not surprised they went to a triangle-and-two. They felt they had to do something. I knew it was going to happen."
The start to the game was not how Franze envisioned it as his Bulldogs missed their first four shots. On one Brocton possession, Sherman's Jake Card registered two consecutive blocks and teammate Ryan Robson earned another block before finally getting the ball and storming down the court as Card scored on a putback to make the score 4-0.
The Wildcats started the game on a 7-0 run before Patterson scored with 3:40 left to put the top-seeded team on the board.
Card hit a 3-pointer in the final minute and Devin Moorhead scored to make the score 12-7 after the first quarter.
However, in the second quarter the Bulldogs picked up their intensity as they were more aggressive on the boards, as they had several second- and third-chance opportunities and limited the Wildcats to just one shot.
With 5:42 remaining in the half, Patterson hit a jumper from the baseline to tie the score 12-all for the first tie since the teams tipped-off. Less than a minute later, Patterson hit a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game.
Sherman's lone basket in the second quarter came off a Ryan Myers' trey with 3:18 to cut the deficit, 16-15.
A Macalum Buchanan shot at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs an 18-15 halftime edge.
"All of a sudden we got scared and played the rest of the half scared to lose instead of playing to win," Emory said of the second quarter. "That's all we talked about at halftime. I told them to get out there and have fun."
In the third quarter, when one team made a basket, the opposition responded. However, when one team didn't score, neither did the other.
After a back-and-forth three minutes, neither team scored a field goal in the final 5:22.
Sherman took the lead with 1.3 seconds left in the quarter as Andrew Graham sunk all three free throws after being fouled by Ferguson on a desperation 3-point attempt.
"I wasn't happy with that call because just before that, the identical thing happened to our kid and we didn't get the call," Franze said. "That's six points right there."
Graham's three free throws gave Sherman its first lead since the beginning of the second quarter.
In the second half, the Wildcats used the triangle-and-two defense and held Brocton to just four field goals - one in the fourth quarter.
"We have been working on it the past couple days as a surprise in case we needed it," Emory said. "We threw it at them and it worked. It seemed to frustrate them. It happened to work for us tonight. Our defense did a good job. The kids did a good job helping out."
In the final frame, Sherman was 6-of-14 from the foul line while Brocton was didn't go to the line at all. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs, 13-2, for the victory and their first sectional title in 11 years.
"I think a lot of people thought this was a two-year project because we only have one senior," Emory said. "I kept telling the guys, this could be our year."
As for Brocton, its season ends with a 17-2 record, as they will lose Patterson and Ferguson to graduation.
"I was very proud of this team this year," Franze said. "I didn't expect to have this record. We had some huge wins during the year. We beat Clymer twice and the way we beat Sherman at home was good. (Ferguson and Patterson) will be missed a lot. They were 75 percent of our offense. Sometimes it's not meant to be. We are league champs and I am happy for that. This will go away."
Sherman's Ryan Robson led all scorers with 15, including three treys while Graham finished with 10 points. Brocton was led by Patterson's 10 points.
The Wildcats will now play the Section 5 Class D champion in the Far West Regionals next Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.