By Matthew Wakefield
Clymer and Sherman's two regular-season matchups were both tight affairs that went down to the final buzzer.
Sherman’s Ryan Myers puts up a shot over Clymer’s Dan Lictus during Monday night’s Section 6 Class D semifinal basketball game at Jamestown Community College. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Reagle
The Wildcats used a terrific start and a great finish Monday night to ensure there would be no late-game theatrics the third time around.
Sherman jumped out to a 15-2 lead after the first quarter of their Section 6 Class D boys basketball semifinal and were in control throughout, save for a third-quarter dry spell that allowed the Pirates to briefly cut the lead to single digits. The Wildcats responded with an 18-5 fourth-quarter surge that gave them a 52-30 victory at Jamestown Community College.
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The game was markedly different from their two league games, which saw each team win by three points on the other team's home court. The second of those games was won by Clymer, 49-46, less than two weeks ago.
So what changed?
''Two things,'' Sherman coach Cory Emory said. ''We actually played a little smarter defensively and made it a little harder for (Dan) Lictus on his offensive end. And then we just made free throws and did all the other little things.''
Lictus had 19 points and five assists and Sherman made just 10 of 26 free throws in the Feb. 12 game. Last night, Lictus was limited to just seven points, all in the second half, and the Wildcats went 9-for-15 at the charity stripe.
''We found him,'' Emory said of Lictus. ''Our other games we kind of let him roam free in the middle. This time our sole concentration was finding him wherever he was in our zone. We needed to find him because not only is he a scorer but he's a distributor. He makes their offense run.''
The win vaults second-seeded Sherman (15-5) into Friday night's Class D sectional final, where it will meet top-seeded Brocton at 5:30 p.m. at JCC. The Bulldogs (17-1) easily defeated Ellicottville in Monday night's other semifinal.
The Wildcats never trailed against Clymer. During one nine-minute stretch that spanned the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, they scored 14 straight points to take early command of the game.
By the time the Pirates finally got their second basket almost two minutes into the second period, they were already behind by 15 points. When the halftime buzzer sounded they trailed by 16 points, 23-7.
''We just couldn't put the ball in the basket in the first half,'' said Clymer coach Dan White, who watched his team shoot 3-for-21 from the field and commit 11 turnovers in the first two quarters. ''We played well enough defensively, but that first half was just a struggle for us to put the ball in the hoop. (Sherman) also played pretty good defense, got their hands on a lot of balls, and we had a couple turnovers where we just didn't take care of the ball.''
Also hampering the Pirates in the first half was Lictus' foul trouble. The senior picked up his third foul and was forced to the bench for the final five minutes of the half, leaving him scoreless for the opening 16 minutes.
Lictus got back into the game to start the second half and helped lead a Clymer surge that got it back in the game. The Pirates opened the third quarter with a 15-6 run that was capped by a Lictus 3-pointer that brought them to within seven points, 29-22.
Clymer was still in the game trailing by nine entering the fourth quarter. But Sherman scored the first four points of the period and a few minutes later went on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.
''They made us worry and then the end of the quarter happened and we settled back down,'' Emory said. ''We got a couple baskets early in the fourth, which extended our lead to 13. It's amazing what going from single digits to double digits can do to the psyche.''
Andrew Graham led Sherman with 16 points and six rebounds, while Ryan Robson had 15 points. Jake Card added 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks and Devin Moorhead had five points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Mitch Einink's nine points led Clymer, followed by Matt DeStevens' eight and Lictus' seven.
''We just didn't execute offensively,'' White said. ''If we did it would have been one of those knock 'em, sock 'em Clymer-Sherman games like we normally have.''
Sherman split its two games against Brocton during league play, beating the Bulldogs by four in December and losing by 14 in January.
''They're just tough,'' Emory said. ''They're big, which is the exact opposite of us. They're big and they have senior guards and now, after watching their game (last night), they're young big guys inside are coming along. It's going to be a tall task for us.''
Wiggers 2 1 5, McAfoose 0 1 1, DeStevens 3 1 8, Einink 4 1 9, Lictus 3 0 7, Heiser 0 0 0, Holthouse 0 0 0, Holmstrom 0 0 0, Woods 0 0 0, Totals 12 4 30.
Graham 7 2 16, Robson 6 2 15, Moorhead 2 1 5, Myers 1 0 2, Card 4 4 12, Ottaway 1 0 2, Gleason 0 0 0, Luden 0 0 0, Boland 0 0 0, Greiner 0 0 0, Totals 21 9 52.
3-point goals-DeStevens, Lictus, Robson.
Clymer 2 5 18 5 - 30
Sherman 15 8 11 18 - 52