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Moore leads Tiger over Health Sciences to win Class A2 title

Buffalo, NY – As the clock ticked down at the end of an energetic and defensive first quarter between Amherst and Health Sciencess Nick Moore received an inbounds pass with less than two seconds to play in the frame.

“In those type of situations, I want to shoot those,” Moore said.

Blink and you miss it, but he did shoot it — and his half court heave dropped, giving his team an extended lead and momentum that would push the Tigers to glory.

Amherst defeated Health Sciences 50-45 to claim the Section VI Class A2 title on Saturday night at Buffalo State College. It’s the Tigers’ first championship since 2017.

“It’s a program win,” Amherst head coach Chris Kensy said. “It’s not just five guys that play the most, it’s an entire program and I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

Moore’s half court 3-pointer put Amherst up 11-7 after the first, and the defensive intensity did not fade away the rest of the night – which was exactly what each side expected coming in.

A second quarter that saw 13 total points and a combined scoreless drought of over four minutes was capped by a layup with a second to play by the Falcons’ Jimmie Green, as the Tigers clung to a 17-14 advantage at the break.

The game-altering run would come in the third, however.

After Taron Benton’s 3-point play knotted the game at 17 apiece, the Tigers would close the frame on a 15-3 run highlighted by defense, holding Health Sciences without a field goal for just under six minutes at one point. Moore would knock down arguably his second most notable triple of the game with 20 seconds remaining, capping off the frame’s scoring to put his side up 32-20 entering the fourth.

“We were repping it all week against their stuff,” Kensy said. “Our kids really bought into the plan. They played team unselfish defense, team unselfish offense … We’ve had nine different guys score in double digits this year. Take one guy away, and another guy steps up. We’re so multi-dimensional.”

It was not all smooth sailing for Amherst, as the Falcons would make a frantic run with under four minutes to play.

After an Ahmir Dunn fadeaway jumper made it 43-29, a Benton layup, steal, and 3-pointer in quick succession cut the deficit to seven, 43-36, with 2:28 to play.

A 3-point play from Kydale Staten, and 3-pointers from Xavier Benton and Taron Benton soon thereafter set the arena in raptures, and with 37 seconds to play, Health Sciences had the ball and a chance to tie the game, down 48-45 – before Moore had other ideas.

The junior stole a cross-court pass and took it the other way to lay it in and ice the game, sending the Amherst fans and student section into rapture.

“They were down by three, so I knew they probably wanted a three,” said Moore, who led all scorers with 20 points. “As soon as I saw Benton backing up, I knew I had to take it away … It’s fun playing in front of people. With the COVID year it kind of sucked, you had to bring your own energy. But this year, it really brought life back to basketball.”

For the Falcons, who struggled shooting the ball all night until late in the game, it was just too little, too late. Taron Benton led Health Sciences with 17 points.

The Tigers will go on to play the winner of Niagara Wheatfield vs. Williamsville East in the Section VI Class A crossover game at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.

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