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OFA falls to Section 3’s Westhill in state Class B semifinal


GLENS FALLS — A select few boys basketball teams within New York state converged upon Glens Falls this weekend, looking to chase their childhood dreams and fulfill their birthright of playing for a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship.

The select few was narrowed down to an ultra elite on Friday in the Class B, C and D divisions, and Ogdensburg Free Academy was denied a spot in the Class B title game as Section 3’s Westhill claimed an entertaining 74-67 win at the Civic Center.

“It was just a great game, they were very good. Much like our last few games against Utica Notre Dame and Norwich. It could have gone either way,” Westhill coach Kevin King said after the game, which fittingly showcased the No. 1- and No. 2 -ranked teams in the state poll for most of the season.

“We just happened to hit a few shots at the end,” King added. “After the first half, we knew we had to tighten up on defense and I think we did some.”

The Warriors (24-0) will play for the state team championship tonight at 9 against Section 5’s Olean (21-3), which overcame fast-starting and quick-jumping Woodlands (19-6) of Section 1 in posting a 71-63 victory.

The Warriors opened a 61-55 lead with 5 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the fourth quarter on two strong moves inside by 6-foot-5 forward Tyler Reynolds, who led all scorers with 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting and a 3-pointer by Jordan Roland, who finished with 17 points with three 3s.

Guard Jeff Lobello played the catalyst role for the Warriors, passing out 10 of the team’s 21 assists and grabbing six rebounds.

Brian Daily came off the bench to score 12 points and grab nine rebounds, leading the Warriors to 34-26 advantage on the boards.

“Tyler Reynolds is an outstanding player and we had no answered for Brian Daily,” said OFA coach Mark Henry, whose team finished 22-2.

Facing their biggest deficit of the season, the Devils surged back on a 3 by Colin Ross, a drive by Kinnon LaRose and a layup by Seth Pinkerton off a pass from Jack Manke.

The Blue Devils failed to get the equalizer, however, as Reynolds buried a jumper and scored inside. The Warriors sealed the deal by making 6-of-7 free throws in the final 40 seconds.

“We didn’t know a lot about them but they were very good,” Reynolds said.

“They have some smaller guys so I got some chances to score inside,, and we executed well when we had to,” Reynolds added.

Matt Piercey led OFA’s scoring with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Ross netted 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Manke tallied 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.

Kinnon LaRose, playing with a knee brace for the first time in his varsity career, tallied 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Henry said LaRose, the Northern Athletic Conference Central Division Most Valuable Player “tweaked his knee” in practice early this week.

Seth Pinkerton netted nine points for OFA, which matched Westhill’s 50-percent field-goal shooting.

“This was the first time that we played a team all season, which matched our quickness. We played an outstanding first half, and the game just came down to who made a few shots at the end. They did and we missed a few that just wouldn’t go down,” Henry said.

Henry added, “I could not be prouder of a team. We had a great season and we travelled very well. So many guys stepped up and there was so much improvement. We went 22-2, which is just outstanding.”

An electrified first half ended in a 41-41 tie in which neither team took time to catch a breath until OFA held the ball for the last 20 seconds to get the last shot.

OFA held the biggest lead at 32-28 with a string of seven straight points.

The Devils shot 17-for-30 from the field led by Piercey’s 13 points and 10 from Ross during the first half.

The Warriors went 16-for-28 from floor and were led in scoring by 13 points from Tyler Reynolds and 11 from Daily.

The two teams both shot 57 percent from the floor in the first half that finished in a 41-41 tie.

Olean 71, Woodlands 63

Woodlands surged to a 36-32 halftime lead with lightning-quick transition breaks.

But Olean regrouped behind 6-7 center Sam Eckstrom’s inside scoring and Nick Schmidt’s 3-point shooting to take a 54-49 margin after three quarters.

Eckstrom’s classic low post scoring and rebounding were also crucial down the stretch, climaxing with an up-and-under move for a score and a 68-63 lead and an offensive rebound and two free throws for 70-63 margin with 34.6 seconds to play.

Eckstrom finished with 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Schmidt buried 7-of-9 3-point attempts, scoring 25 points.

Jamil Gambari delivered 27 points and eight rebounds for Woodlands.

Ross Joseph scored 14 points and Brandon Johnson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

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