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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Billies celebrate long-awaited Buff State appearance with victory over South Park

Mike Trzybinski called it the culmination of two years of hard work by his team. And from the start of basketball practice last fall, Williamsville South had a singular, motivating goal for the 2022-23 season.

“We said it every day,” the South head coach said Saturday night. “Every day, our goal was to get to Buff State.”

The Billies were ready when they got here, too. They raced out to a stunning, 10-0 lead over South Park and coasted to a 68-56 victory over the Sparks in the Class A-2 Section VI semifinals at the Buffalo State Arena.

Williamsville South (18-4) earned a trip to Saturday night’s A-2 championship game. The Billies will take on defending overall A champ Amherst, which has beaten them twice this season, including a 31-point road rout back in December.

“They’ll be the favorite,” Trzybinski said. “That’s fine. We’ve been overlooked all year, and that’s fine. I’ll take that as opposed to the other stuff. Our guys have a chip on their shoulder. Amherst beat us twice, so we’ve got to give it our best effort and we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

Conventional wisdom says it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season. Will South played Amherst to a 10-point loss later in the season. As their coach says, the Billies have been building to this moment, and they’ll be a tough foe on Saturday if they play the way they did for much of the game against South Park.

Senior guard Nico DiGiulio, the lefty three-point artisan, led Will South with 26 points on an array of bombs and drives to the hole. Fellow senior Dan Peoples scored 12 points, as did sophomore Carter Lampke and freshman Nate Wilemski, who plays with guile and resourcefulness beyond his years.

“Nate, for a ninth-grader, plays with so much poise,” Trzybinski said. “He’s quiet, but plays with a quiet confidence. It’s awesome to see. I’m happy for how he played.”

Wilemski scored five points late in the first half to give South a 12-point edge, 36-24. The Sparks closed the half with a 6-0 run, and were within seven before Will South went on an 11-0 run to take a commanding 15-point lead late in the third. Peoples had a gorgeous tip-in, DiGiulio a conventional three-point play and Lampke a follow as the Billies began to have their way near the hoop.

Brandon MicKell led the Sparks, who finished 13-9, with 14 points. Savani Rivera and Robert Carlock scored 13 apiece for South Park.

“There’s no better place than this for high school basketball in late February and March,” Trzybinski said. “These guys have earned it with their hard work from day one, looking forward to getting to Buff State and a sectional final. I can’t wait to watch them play on Saturday.”

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