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Clarence should be tough out in boys hoops playoffs

The Clarence High School boys basketball team might not be the favorite in the loaded Class AA Section VI playoffs.

But suffice to say, the Red Devils are a team nobody wants to play at this point.

The Red Devils won seven of eight to close the regular season with a program-best 14-4 record.

Clarence earned a fourth-seed for the upcoming sectional playoffs.

“We’re going pretty well,” Red Devils coach Todd Banaszak said. “There’s some things we still have to work on; we have to get more physical. But we just keep it rolling, work hard in practice and next Friday night at home, we’ll be ready.”

Indeed, the Red Devils will host their quarterfinal game on Feb. 22 against an opponent to be determined. Regardless of the opponent, Clarence has shown it will be ready.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” junior forward Ryan Funk said. “We’re just going to work hard and see what we can do.”

All four of Clarence’s losses came to top teams — two to Jamestown, one to Williamsville North and another in a non-league game against McKinley.

The Red Devils also beat the rival Spartans on the road and are also responsible for the only loss this season for both Amherst and Oracle Charter.

And if the season-finale is any indication, Funk and the Red Devils will be tough to stop by anyone.

Clarence rolled to a 71-52 rout of rival Lancaster, behind a career-high 37 points from Funk.

“That’s a great night for him,” Banaszak said. “Fantastic. We wanted to go in off of a good win and we got it. Our leading scorer had a good night, you want to go into the playoffs with that.”

Funk’s career night included 25 points in the first half. He could’ve scored more but he was pulled with 5:20 left in the game in the interest of sportsmanship.

“I was just hot with the three and they weren’t really guarding me that much,” Funk said. “It was a nice statement win going into the playoffs.”


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