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Hamburg achieves first section title in 68 years

Earlier this afternoon, the Hamburg Bulldogs boys’ basketball team walked onto their homecourt with ambition and poise. They were looking to do what hasn’t been done since 1953, win a section title.

“I only found that out a couple of days ago, but that really resonated with our kids when they heard that. We thought, why not do it for our program, for our community and for everybody else involved with Hamburg basketball,” said Hamburg head coach John Reinholz.

The Bulldogs battled it out against Niagara Wheatfield for the Section VI Class A1 Title. From tip off, it was a fast-paced contest as both teams didn’t break the foundation that got them there. Trading bucket after bucket, lead after lead, Hamburg and Niagara Wheatfield never led by more then three in the first quarter.

Falcons’ junior T.J. Robinson had a hot hand at the start, his perimeter shooting gave him eight points, two swishing from three-point land. His teammate and freshman Shawn Watson answered with a trey. Hamburg’s top scorers Adam Chiacchia and Benjamin Bill responded by attacking the paint, ending the quarter tied at 15.

Junior Brady Kustra scored first in the second quarter to help the Bulldogs regain the lead. Then, would go on to outscore the Falcons 20-9; precision and quick passes led to good shot selections. Junior Evan Chaffee hit two shots beyond the arc and two foul shots to push Hamburg into the half up 37-24.

Their defense continued to be a problem for Niagara Wheatfield, scoring six points in the third quarter. Robinson and Sophomore Xander Fletcher came into the game as the leading scorers, they combined for two points in the third. Robinson would finish the game with 21 points while Fletcher had 19.

Chiacchia and Bill kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter, making sure Hamburg stayed out in front. Bill scored 22 in the game while his teammate Chiacchia had 15. During postgame Chiacchia spoke up on finding the holes on defense, plus how moving the ball around led to their offensive success.

“We got to keep attacking the gaps and keep kicking and making the defense work to try and stop us and I think we did that really well and they couldn’t stop us,” said Chiacchia.

The Buzzer went and Hamburg celebrated with a huddle around their bench. Their fanbase cheering on in excitement and emotion. Hamburg winning by a final score of 69-49 over Niagara Wheatfield, winning their first section title since 1953.

A lot of credit has to go to Niagara Wheatfield, they came into this game after knocking off one-seeded McKinley in triple overtime. Like Hamburg, they were seeking their first section championship in a long time, 48 years to be exact. The Falcons fought a valiant effort but fatigue got to them as the second half came along. With a young core returning, don’t be surprised to see them back in the same spot next season.

Coach Reinholz talked about how great it was to find success with this young roster. He also gave credit to Niagara Wheatfield’s roster too as the starting lineups from both teams had no seniors playing. Coach Reinholz iterated that they will likely see Niagara Wheatfield again and it will be a good rivalry.

Hamburg’s basketball program has grown the past couple of years. For the girls, they defeated North Tonawanda last night 56-27, winning back-to-back titles in the Class A1 bracket. The boys accomplished what hasn’t been done in over six decades.

On top of all of that, both of the boys’ and girls’ rosters will have a combined seven seniors graduating this academic year. 11 players will return on the girls’ team and nine will be suiting up again for the boys’ squad.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jacob_Fyock

Featured image is credited to Shawn Turri

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