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High School Boys Basketball: Path to semis to go through Hamburg, N.C. home courts

Jeremiah Bill and Hamburg have the opportunity in Class A-1 to move on to Buffalo State with a win over Hutch Tech on Friday (Feb. 22). (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

North Collins and Hamburg have both made it so that the path to playing in possible semifinal games in their brackets will go through their own gymnasiums. But both four seeds will certainly be challenged in trying to move on.

Hamburg will host an unfamiliar foe in Hutch-Tech, a Buffalo City School from the Yale Cup, in Class A-1, while North Collins will take on rival Ellicottville in the rubber match between the two CCAA divisional foes in Class D. Both games will be played on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Each are looking for big crowds to help garner them a home court advantage.

The Bulldogs will have their hands full with an athletic team, which should look to turn over Hamburg to create quick buckets. Hamburg head coach Tim Brueckl believes his team will need to use its strong forward play to outrebound Hutch Tech and avoid allowing easy buckets on put backs.

“We watched Hutch Tech and they’re a little better than I thought,” Hamburg head coach Tim Brueckl said. “They’re going to look to run. Our kids feel like they can win at their own place. They worked hard to get this home game. We’ve got to outrebound them and not give them easy scores. They’re a team that beats us if we don’t show up.”

Hamburg finished off the regular season with a win over Lake Shore to finish 9-9 overall. Junior standout Griffin Ryan, who leads the charge in close to the basket for Hamburg, finished with seven rebounds and five steals.

Senior point guard Kyle Violanti finished with 17 points, four assists and three steals. With 71 steals on the season, Violanti is also closing in on the school’s all-time single-season mark. He’s needs nine more to break it.

Senior Andrew Sardinia, who’s been an offensive contributor as well as a defensive stalwart for the Bulldogs, notched 21 points and five assists. Hamburg closed the third quarter with a 17-6 run to go up 11 in the fourth. The Bulldogs went up as many as 15 before Lake Shore got as close as five.

The Bulldogs will also look to Jeremiah Bill at forward and to get some quality minutes from power forwards Joe DeGrood and Brandon Pierce.

“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to get to Buffalo State and then we’d see what happens if we got there,” said Brueckl, whose team would probably meet back up with top-seeded Sweet Home if it advanced to the game Wednesday, Feb. 27. “We’ve got the home game and the kids have to win one to get to Buff State. You can’t ask for a better scenario.”
Jordan Keough and North Collins host Ellicottville on Friday, Feb. 22 for the right to move on to the Class D semifinals at Jamestown Community College. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

North Collins’ goal all season was similar to Hamburg’s in that it also hoped to reach the semifinals, which for Class D are played at Jamestown Community College on Monday, Feb. 25.

This year, the Eagles have made that a more realistic possibility by getting the home game against an Ellicottville, a team it lost to earlier this season but then beat 38-30 a few weeks back. Each victory was at the other team’s gym.

“We needed to win that second game against them to get this home playoff game,” said Catalino, whose team finished 8-10 overall. “We’ve been struggling to score. We’re going to need to hit more shots and free throws and really defend. We’ve done a good job defending lately, holding Clymer to 49 points (in a loss) and Ellicottville to 30.”

The Eagles actually won a coin toss with Ellicottville for the fourth seed after both finished 5-7 against common Class D opponents. The last few seasons, the coin tosses and seeding have not gone the way of North Collins, so it’s luck could be changing.

“We had a couple of goals — have a home playoff game was the first, and we seem to have been about a game short of that the past few years,” said Catalino, whose team would probably meet top-seeded Brocton if it gets to the semifinals. “The second goal was to get to Jamestown. Once you get there, you never know.”

Catalino is looking to get his point-leader Jared Keppel back to his torrid scoring pace. After hitting 1,000 for his career, the senior forward has slowed a bit with many opponents continuing to focus their defense on him.

Fellow senior forward Hawk Horschel may also play a big part in the game underneath the basket after grabbing 12 rebounds the last time the teams met. Jaden Keough was the team’s leading scorer with 16 points in the second Ellicottville game.

Senior Todd Youngman will be counted on to run the team’s offense from the point, while Jake Fyock has added quality minutes for North Collins at the guard spot. Catalino said Fyock has been strong with the ball, boxed out well and works hard.

At the very least, Catalino would like to see his team get the experience of playing at Jamestown, like the Eagles possible opponent in the next round, Clymer, did last year. That program capitalized on that appearance with a 15-1 season this year.

Elsewhere, Frontier also earned a home court game as the eighth-seeded Falcons hosted No. 8 West Seneca West in a Class AA pre-quarterfinal on Feb. 20. While both teams finished the regular season 9-9, Frontier swept the season series, 2-0, from their ECIC I division foe. The winner plays at top-seeded Jamestown on Friday, Feb. 22.

The Falcons finished the season, splitting their final two games in out-of-league play. After falling to Monsignor Martin power St. Joe’s, Frontier beat Starpoint 67-48 in the season finale. Frontier was 6-6 and finished in fourth in ECIC I.

Also upcoming in the playoffs, fifth-seeded Lake Shore plays at No. 4 South Park in a Class A-2 quarterfinal on Friday. The Eagles go into the game with a 7-11 mark. A win would send the Eagles to Buffalo State for the A-2 semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

In Class B-1, 14th-seeded Eden fell 65-44 at 11th-seeded Alden on Tuesday (Feb. 19). The Raiders finished the season at 3-16.

Also locally, St. Francis took its regular season finale down to the final seconds but fell 69-65 to Timon-St. Jude. The Red Raiders, who finished the Monsignor Martin league season at 1-10, then defeated Cardinal O’Hara 57-55 on Feb. 19 in a play-in game to the league quarterfinals.

The Red Raiders scored 28 points, including six three-pointers, in the fourth to come from 10 points behind against O’Hara. Ragan Schichtel finished with 11 points in the win. Teammates Cory Cullen, Brennan Macy and Treyvon Holness each added 10 points. They’ll play Canisius in the quarterfinals on Thursday (Feb. 21).

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