BUFFALO - The Silver Creek Black Knights (22-0) got the redemption they had been working for all season long as they defeated Middle Early College (16-6), 67-62, Tuesday night at Buffalo State to bring home the overall Section 6 Class C boys' basketball title.
The Black Knights fell to the Kats in the same game a year ago, 58-57, as Zeddie Williams missed a runner in the lane as time expired, sending MEC to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Class C Far West Regional.
"A lot had to happen for us to get back here against them on both sides," Silver Creek head coach Rob Genco said. "Their bracket, our bracket ... For it to come back to it, for us to lose the way we did last year and to come back and get (the win), it makes it extra special. I have noting but respect for their coach and their players."
OBSERVER?Photos by Gib Snyder III
Above, members of the Silver Creek Black?Knights celebrate with the Section 6 Class?C trophy after defeating Middle Early College, 67-62, in the Sectional title game Tuesday at Buffalo?State. At right, Silver Creek’s Zeddie Williams walks off the court after the win. Silver Creek now looks forward to playing in the NYSPHSAA’s Class C Far West Regional on Saturday in Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena at 2:30 p.m., against either Mynderse (17-5) or Lyons (18-2).
Williams was not going to let the same thing happen to his Black Knights as it did a year ago, as the senior poured in a team-high 25 points while adding seven rebounds and five assists.
"It's his senior year and this is a kid that I love and care about more than anything in the world," Genco said. "And for him to get this (Sectional title), I'm happy for him. This is the way he should go out."
"(Coach Genco) has been preaching to me since day one (that) hard work beats talent any day," Williams added. "And that's what we have. We have hard work and heart."
The Black Knights have plenty of talent to go along with the heart they show each and every game, as they got out to a 20-12 lead after the first eight minutes.
"I've watched five of (MEC's) games and I was just praying that they would start in zone," Genco said. "Because I knew that the way they run their zone, we have some things that they wouldn't be able to stop."
Williams led the way with nine points while sophomore Billy Brooks chipped in six first-quarter points.
"When (Zeddie) was in third grade, I knew that there was something special there," Genco said. "He's got the state record for lacrosse points, he's a 1,000-point scorer in basketball and he's rushed for 1,000 yards (in a single season). So I've known since he was a little guy that he was a special kid. And he's an equally good human being."
The Kats came back in the second quarter, and outscored the Black Knights, 17-13, but still found themselves behind, 33-29, at the break.
"They got out of their zone," Genco said of the Kats' defense in the second quarter. "But they waited a little longer than I thought they should have."
The game was every bit the track meet it was billed as being with the teams playing the second half at the same pace as the first, which is something Genco and the Black Knights are comfortable doing.
"I think that's kind of the way we like to play," Genco said. "It was right up our alley. (MEC's) speed was deceiving. They don't look like they're moving fast, but that team flies. Our guys were giving everything they had to get back and stop their breaks. To know that we can run like that for four quarters gives me hope and makes me feel like we like our chances from here on out."
The Black Knights were outscored again in the third quarter, 16-15, but put up 19 points over the game's final eight minutes to the Kats' 17 to seal the win.
"It's about the love and the passion we have for the game and each other," Genco said. "We do it the right way. This team just cares about each other and the way that they're doing this has been nothing but classy."
The Kats' Keir Anderson led all scorers with 26 points, including eight in the third quarter when MEC was able to cut Silver Creek's lead to one, 46-45, but a bucket by Brooks near the end of the frame put the Black Knights back up three.
The fourth quarter was as hotly contested as the first three as the teams traded buckets back-and-forth, but the Kats - despite the Black Knights' Brooks and Kaine Kettle being in foul trouble with four each - were unable to catch the State's No. 2 Class C team in the end.
"That's our Achilles heel," Genco said of his team getting into foul trouble. "That's what I'm always worried about."
The dagger in the Kats' heart may have come midway through the final stanza. After a Brennan White turnover turned into a 3-pointer by Anderson to cut the Black Knights' lead to 56-55, White came right back down the floor and hit a huge three of his own from the left corner to put Silver Creek up 59-55.
"He came down right after a turn over and righted the wrong," Genco said. "I'm pretty proud of that shot."
With its win over MEC - the State's No. 4 team - in hand, Silver Creek now looks forward to playing in the NYSPHSAA's Class C Far West Regional on Saturday in Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena at 2:30 p.m., against either Mynderse (17-5) or Lyons (18-2), which will play for the Section 5 Class C title tonight.
"I can't even express their happiness and how happy I am for them," Genco said. "I really can't. It's nice to be a part of. This is a special team and I'm just happy I'm here for the ride."
NOTES: Brooks celebrated his 16th birthday in a big way, pouring in 20 points, hauling down 21 rebounds and blocking eight shots ... Kettle finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists ... Bri'an Brown had 14 points for the Kats while Tarron Scott chipped in 12 points.