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  • Jerry Sullivan

RANDOLPH manhandled by Lyons

Kevin Hind told his players early on Friday that it was a great day, regardless of the outcome. He’s been coaching high school basketball for 26 years, and he knows that every team but one has to end its season with a loss.


A year earlier, his Randolph team had been the exception, winning a New York State Class C championship. But he had made it clear from the start of the year that those runs should be treasured. They don’t come along very often.


“It was never, ever, state championship or bust,” Hind said after the Cardinals lost to Lyons, 61-44, in the Far West Regional at Buffalo State College. “We had deficiencies. We were little. We came up against a bad matchup for us.”That much was evident from the start. Randolph had no starter taller than 6-feet. The Cardinals had a formidable task in the low post against Jamie Johnson, the Lions’ 6-5, 265-pound sophomore center. 


Johnson, who finished with a game-high 21 points, scored on a layup and an offensive outback on the first two possessions. Randolph doubled him in the post, trying to deny him the ball. Griffin Nelson, who stands 5-8, fronted him with his back to the ball and Drew Hind shadowed Johnson from the baseline. 


They had no choice but to pick their poison, to allow Lyons (22-2) shots from the perimeter and hope for the best. It worked for nearly as half, as the Lions missed their first 10 three-point shots and Randolph made a run to take a one-point lead late in the first half. 


But eventually, Lyons was bound to make jump shots. Devyn Williams hit a three at the halftime buzzer to give Lyons a 24-22 lead. They were just getting starter. The Lions hit three more three-pointers in a 15-0 run to begin the third quarter. Steven LeBrecht scored all 10 of his points, including two threes to cap the run and give Lyons a commanding 39-22 advantage. 


Randolph got nothing easy against a bigger, more physical opponent. Drew Hind, who averaged 20 points a game this season, was held to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Nelson led the Cardinals with 12 points and Kevin McElwain, their best three-point marksman, had nine.


Lyons had 38 rebounds, 18 on the offensive glass. Johnson seemed to get his hand on every loose ball in the low post for the team from Wayne County, perhaps best known as the alma mater of Jim Boeheim. 


“The bottom line is, they were better than us tonight, and that’s it,” Kevin Hind said after his squad finished 21-3. “They’re all coming back. We’re basically talking next year already. We were talking weight room, gym. Nothing is life is just given to you. We lose one guy. Roan (Kelly) will be off running Division I track (at Virginia Tech). I couldn’t thank him enough,.


“But there’s five guys sitting there who didn’t help me tonight who are sophomores or juniors. What do you want out of this? Go do it. Go earn it. Get to the weight room. Make it so I have eight guys next year to play instead of five. It’s up to you what happens next.”


After all, those championship seasons don’t come along very often in life. Great things could still lie ahead for Randolph. As the coach says, it starts today. 

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