PIERCING SHOT — Brendan Pierce and Hamburg are still alive, along with four other teams, for an ECIC II division title. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The Hamburg boys basketball team used its size advantage to create a number of second-chance opportunities but, for most of the night, those opportunities weren’t having much impact on the scoreboard against the Starpoint team. The Bulldogs eventually got the inside bucket for an Erie County Interscholastic Conference II win.
Jeremiah Bill’s bucket in the paint with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter put the Bulldogs ahead to stay as Hamburg posted a 45 – 42 win against the Spartans in a league battle on Jan. 31.
“They have a big, physical team and that’s a tough matchup for us,” Starpoint coach Ben Scaffidi said. “We’re a little on the small side and, with a lot of sophomores, you’re giving up some pounds and some years on those guys. We got beat up a bit around the basket, but we fought ... and that’s all we can ask.”
The Spartans, who dropped to 6 – 7 overall, 2 – 5 in ECIC II, led for most of the evening, but never by more than five. A Brock Kroening (11 points) bucket gave the Spartans a 1-point lead with approximately 3 minutes to play, but those were Starpoint’s last points of the game.
Senior Bill answered with his go-ahead bucket; after two scoreless minutes passed, sophomore guard Brendan Ryan drained a pair of free throws with 13.5 seconds to play. Starpoint had one last opportunity,, but a final shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
“Into the second half, it was one of those game where you could feel it was going to be back-and-forth and who was going to make that late shot?” Hamburg coach Tim Brueckl said. “We made a shot, they missed and we made a couple of free throws. It could have easily gone the other way.”
Bill led the Bulldogs (7 – 5, 4 – 3 ECIC II) with 10 points. Junior Caleb Wood came off the bench and added 9 for Hamburg. He drained a 3-pointer with a second left in the third quarter and buried another trey on the Bulldogs’ first possession of the final period.
“Caleb hit a couple of big, big shots for us,” Brueckl said. “He’s one of our better shooters and he’s been struggling the last couple of games. He started to feel it tonight.”
Three days later, Hamburg improved to 8 – 5 overall and 5 – 3 in the division with a 64 – 49 win against West Seneca East. Griffin Ryan led Hamburg with 23 points, while Brandon Pierce added 10 and Woods knocked down three 3-pointers, to account for his 9 points. The Bulldogs last four divisional games are against the teams they’re battling against for a division title. After playing at 6 – 3 Williamsville South on Feb. 6, Hamburg will host front-runner Iroquois (6 – 2) on Feb. 8.