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Blue Devils Turn Up The Heat, Defeat Panthers In B-1 Final

No matter what sport it is, experience will win you games. That is the perfect way to describe how the East Aurora Blue Devils came away with a 75-39 victory over the Newfane Panthers in the Section VI Class B-1 Final on Saturday afternoon at Buffalo State College. In a battle of the one and three seeds respectively, the Blue Devils relied on their “core four” of Nick Montgomery, Cal McTigue, Josh Denz and Joe Montgomery to hoist their first sectional title since 2012. The last time the program won the title, the current group was in middle school. Head coach Chris Koselny couldn’t say enough about how much he loves his job after the victory.

            “I’ve got a group of seniors that have done any and everything I’ve asked of them,” he said with a smile on his face. “What we’ve asked from them is to give us their energy, effort and enthusiasm and they’ve been nothing great. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them and what they just did for our school, for themselves and for our basketball program.”

            The Blue Devils jumped out to an 8-0 run in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter before Newfane’s star shooting guard Kyle DeVoogel connected on a three-pointer. The connection gave the Panthers a brief spark as they trimmed the deficit to 10-8 before the Blue Devils found success inside the paint, a challenge for the Panthers all afternoon. McTigue swung the momentum back in East Aurora’s favor with his lay-up off a no-look pass from sophomore guard Noah Denz, an 18-11 edge.

            From there, the Blue Devils did not look back as they recorded ten three-pointers on the afternoon, five coming from the wrist of McTigue, who finished with 23 points. His teammate, Nick Montgomery, recorded 24 points and went 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. Coach Koselny knew that his team was ready for the Panthers’ zone, right from the opening tip.

“We knew that that was what they wanted to do and we were prepared,” Koselny, who now has two sectional titles to his name, added. “We just talked in practice about where the shots were going to be open and we did a nice job.”

            For the Panthers, the team will have exciting times to look forward to as all but two players, Albert Kramp and Caleb Russell, will be wearing the blue-and-white jerseys next winter. Junior guard Max Weber led the way with 15 points while DeVoogel, one of the best shooters from the Niagara Orleans League, was a step behind with 14 points. But as head coach Eric Klumpp told the Lockport Journal’s sports editor, John D’onofrio, the best is yet to come.

            “Next year, our core comes back and so now it’s really about how much work we’re going to put in during the off-season,” Klumpp said before resetting the timer for the start of another season in the “Blue Zone.” The Panthers will look to bring home their first sectional title since 1980 starting in November.

            As for East Aurora, this is their fifth sectional title in program history (1965, 2000, 2001, 2012 were previous years) and their first 20-win campaign under Coach Koselny. Other notable contributors were Josh Denz (10 points) and Noah Denz (3 points.) The team will now prepare for their matchup against Health Sciences for the overall Class B championship at 6 eastern on Tuesday, March 7, at Buffalo State College. The Falcons won over the Lackawanna Steelers in the Class B-2 Final, 63-48, to begin the quintupleheader of action. Junior captain Davonte Gaines had 27 points to lead the program to their first title in just their fifth season of existence. Teammate Tyron Lott added 19 points while fan-favorite senior Wize Threat contributed 6 points. Junior Haris Bekric had 14 points in the losing effort for the Steelers.

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