It was a battle of young versus old, of the inexperienced versus the experienced and of those battle-tested and those still unseasoned.
And, as is often the case, experience won out.
Southwestern, armed with six seniors and six juniors, handled a fresh-faced Chautauqua Lake squad in relatively easy fashion on Saturday evening, using a 13-1 run over the last four minutes of the second quarter to build an insurmountable lead and cruise to the 19-point victory, 49-30, in the opening round of the Southwestern TaBone Christmas Classic at Jamestown Community College.
Southwestern coach Andrew Krenzer talks to his team during a timeout Saturday night during their Southwestern TaBone Christmas Classic first-round victory over Chautauqua Lake. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
The victory earned the Trojans a place in today's championship battle with Sherman at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats, ranked No. 11 in the state for Class D by the New York Sportswriters Association, toppled Salamanca, 66-50, in the other game.
"We've got athletes in the right places and we're a senior (heavy) team," Southwestern coach Andrew Krenzer said. "We've got six seniors, and Chautauqua Lake is very young. They've got a lot of sophomores, and to win basketball games it's nice to have seniors."
A few of those seniors came up particularly big for the Trojans, now 4-3 overall, during the contest's two big runs in the opening half.
Kyle Radack, Alek Peck, who finished with 11 rebounds to go along with six steals and six assists, and Pete Trathen tallied eight points during a 10-0 spree to start the game and then, after Chautauqua Lake had managed to battle back and cut the deficit to just two, 16-14, midway through the second quarter, it was Radack (six points), Trathen, Peck and another senior, Nick Baglia, who combined for the game-clinching run to balloon the advantage to nearly 15, 28-15.
Chautauqua Lake never threatened again.
"We're running four sophomores and a freshman out there sometimes, that's pretty young," Thunderbirds' coach Chris Dole said. "We're probably one of the youngest groups in the county, and when you have that combination of youth they're just not used to playing at (the varsity) speed all of the time."
Southwestern, however, is, and thanks to a minor strategic shift that Krenzer instituted at the beginning of this season, the Trojans have been able to really stretch their legs.
"We've changed our style a little bit," Krenzer explained. "We are now packing it in on teams and hoping to rebound a little bit better and then create some transition (baskets)."
Radack, who finished with a game-high 19 points, was the main beneficiary of the change on Saturday, tallying 14 of those 19 on the fast break. And that more compact defense not only created 19 Chautauqua Lake turnovers, but it also forced the Thunderbirds into taking low percentage shots from long range.
"We simplified our defense, and we're settling for the percentages," Krenzer said. "We want to force the 33 percent shot, compared to the paint shot where it could be anywhere from 60 to 80 percent."
While the Trojans' main scoring contingent led the way in the first half, Andrew Greenlee chipped in with a triple from the left wing, Riley Rybicki completed an old-fashioned three-point play after being fouled on a fast break layup and Nathan Schrope added a bucket down low in the second half to maintain their comfortable cushion.
"Those guys absolutely carried us in the second half," Krenzer said. "They did a really nice job. We're always going to get points from Alek and Radack, always, but when those other guys step up we win basketball games."
NOTES: Ian Clute led Chautauqua Lake with eight points, nine rebounds and four steals. ... Chautauqua Lake will face off against Salamanca, losers against Sherman in the other opening-round game, today at 6 p.m.
CHAUTAUQUA LAKE (30)
Davidson 1 0 3, Clute 3 1 8, Mayer 1 0 2, Briggs 1 0 2, Thomas 2 1 5, Applegarth 0 0 0, Miller 2 0 4, Hulton 2 0 4, Latimer 1 0 2. Totals 13 2 30.
Baglia 2 1 5, Greenlee 2 0 5, Rybicki 1 1 3, Peck 2 0 4, Moran 2 0 4, Hammond 0 0 0, Trathen 2 3 7, Radack 8 3 19, Schrope 1 0 2. Totals 20 8 49.
3-point goals: Davidson, Clute, Greenlee.
Chautauqua Lake7 8 8 7 - 30
Southwestern 12 16 9 12 - 49