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Quakers overpower Jamestown late, East Aurora and Olean dominate in B1 semifinals

The old saying “defense wins championships” rings true more often than not.

While it didn’t win Orchard Park a title just yet, their lockdown defense down the stretch against Jamestown moved them one step closer in doing so on Wednesday night.

The No. 3 Quakers used a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to down No. 2 Jamestown, 53-43, in Section VI Class AA semifinal action at Buffalo State College.

After a tightly contested first half, it seemed as though the Red Raiders were the team destined to move on to Saturday’s final, as strong contributions from Demarri Jones (team-high 17 points) and an 11-point third quarter from Elijah Rojas had Jamestown in the driver seat, up 39-36 entering the final stanza.

Instead, the Quakers stepped up.

“All year long, from everything we do, from our schedule to everything in practice, we say get comfortable in uncomfortable positions,” Orchard Park coach Chris Frankowski said. “For us, there’s nothing we haven’t seen now … everybody else is rocking and may be nervous, but not my guys, and that’s a testament to them.”

Orchard Park would go on to hold Jamestown scoreless for a period of over six minutes in the fourth quarter, and on the other end, doing the damage was senior Ethan Swiatek.

Swiatek kicked off the game-altering run with a 3-point-play just over a minute in, and tallied 10 of his game-high 18 points in the last frame. His six-for-seven free throw shooting split in the clutch helped ensure the Quaker win.

“We’ve been in these situations all year,” Swiatek said. “I wasn’t nervous, I don’t anyone was nervous … we were confident going into the game we could stop them and hold them to limited points, and that’s what we did.”

Next up for Orchard Park is a high stakes rivalry game with No. 5 Lancaster in the Class AA title game. The two sides split both meetings during the regular season, which sets up a rubber match on the big stage.

The championship is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Buffalo State.

Blue Devils, Huskies punch tickets to B1 title game

It was a much more dominant showing from both winners in the Class B1 semifinals.

Four Blue Devils finished in double figures, as No. 4 East Aurora upset No. 1 Bennett 65-54 in the earlier of the two games.

“When your kids are just executing and seeing what you planned to do actually work, it kind of builds,” East Aurora coach Chris Koselny said. “We made a few shots in the second quarter that just kind of loosened the tension, loosened the stress so to speak. I think that was key.”

After leading 22-14 following the first quarter, seven straight points from junior Ian Moog (12 points) helped string together a 9-1 run that allowed East Aurora to create separation on the scoreboard, as they took a 41-26 lead into halftime.

Then, it was sophomore Dom Phillips’ turn, as he tallied nine of his game-high 17 points in the third quarter to ensure the Blue Devils kept their hefty lead, as their advantage extended to as large as 24 points. His ability to penetrate inside was on display all night, and their consistent pressure in the paint killed the Tigers for much of the game.

“I was able to get into the lane and close down the defense, and so I was able to finish or kick it back out,” Phillips said. “The thing about our team is we don’t have one main scorer, we have four good ballhandlers and really good finishers … it’s all about the team concept.”

Bennett’s Rashard Perry finished with 14 points to lead his team.

In the later matchup, a second half surge from the No. 7 Olean Huskies lifted them to a 62-36 win over No. 3 Depew.

A tightly contested first half resulted in a 26-20 Huskies lead at the break, but it wasn’t until the third quarter that Olean turned it up a notch.

“I think we decided that we need to get away from necessarily set plays and just get some movement,” Huskies coach Tim Kolasinski said. “[We began] to take advantage of simple things. Get the ball to the open man, just really simple basketball. We have some guys on this team that … play together as a team and find those open shots.”

An 11-3 run to open the third helped extend Olean’s advantage to double digits, and by the game’s conclusion, the Huskies had won the second half in dominant fashion, 36-16.

A big part of the Olean third quarter explosion was senior Covi James, who tallied ten of his game-high 21 points in the frame.

“Just playing more team basketball — driving, kicking, not forcing the ball really got us open shots,” James said. “We just got to look at it as another game, it’s not a big stage … we just got to come play basketball.”

PJ Burns led Depew with 12 points in the loss.

The Class B1 title game between the Blue Devils and Olean is set to take place at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday at Buffalo State.

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