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Will South's run ends in FWR


Photos by Joe Turri


One thing you learn about coaches is that as soon as one season is done, they’re already preparing for the next one. So when Williamsville South’s basketball season ended last year, they set their sights on reaching a Section VI title game in 2024. 


“The guys worked their butts off,’” said head coach Mike Trzybinski, “and manifested that into existence.”


The Billies did more than get there. They stunned Main Street rival and top seed Amherst in the A1 final, then blew out Olean for the overall ‘A’ crown. You could say the Billies were playing with house money Saturday afternoon against Wayne in the NYSPHSAA Far West Regional at Buffalo State. 


But the house came crashing down on the upstart Billies. A bigger and more talented Braves team jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead and eased to a 58-41 victory, earning a spot in the Class A state semifinals next week.


Williamsville South closed to within four, but Wayne led by seven at half and blew the game open with a 14-4 run at the start of the third quarter. 


The Billies got back within eight points as junior Carter Lampke scored nine of his team-high 21 points from late in the third to the start of the fourth quarter. But the Braves quickly got the lead back to 15 and coasted from there. 


“They’re a really good team, really well-coached,” Trzybinski said. (Cameron) Blankenberg is a great player, and it just wasn’t our night.“We struggled to make shots and to get good looks inside,” he added. “We sort of got away from some of the things we had talked about, like getting the ball to the middle and moving it diagonally. They play suffocating defense and run their stuff. We gave up too many looks inside.


”Wayne split the Will South defense time and again in the half court. Blankenberg, a 6-4 sophomore, scored 30 points on post-ups and put-backs. The Braves’ big men found seams along the baseline. Meanwhile, their defense was making every possession a labor for a limited Billies attack. 


Lambke, a junior who blossomed during Will South’s late-season run, made five three-pointers. But no other player scored more than six points. Thus ended a magical run that brought South to its first Far West Regional since 2016. 


Afterwards, Trzybinski told his team, ‘You try to do things the right way and respect the game and work at it, good things happen. I told them ‘There’s a lesson in that. You might not see it tonight, but this will manifest itself again’.”


Trzybinski had praise for his coaches, who he said are heavily invested in a resurgent program. He said South athletic director Adam Erickson is the best he’s worked for. And he has Lampke, an avid student of the game, back for one more season.


“He’s a great player,” Trzybinski said of Lampke. “He’s a guy who takes the time to work on his craft and doesn’t want to be good, he wants to be great. He wants to play in college and see how far it can take him.”


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