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Instant Classic

Salamanca Rallies, Overcomes Kelly’s Buzzer-Beater To Win

From the left, Salamanca’s Avery Brown, Lucus Brown and Cory Holleran celebrate their victory over Randolph on Saturday at the Centercourt Classic at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute gym. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

BUFFALO — The horn sounded and Salamanca head coach Adam Bennett turned toward the bleachers behind his bench Saturday afternoon and raised his arms toward the ceiling at the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute gymnasium.

He had plenty to celebrate.

Most importantly, of course — both to him and his Warriors’ team — was their 55-54 come-from-behind overtime victory over rival Randolph in a battle of two of the best small school programs in Western New York.

Not far behind the win on Bennett’s feel-good list, however, was the way Salamanca accomplished it.

Because while the Warriors-Cardinals showdown was part of a series of much-anticipated high school games included on the Centercourt Classic docket over the weekend, Bennett didn’t have much to brag about with his team’s first-half offensive performance.

Randolph’s Jaxon Morrison celebrates with Roan Kelly (2) after Kelly drilled a game-tying 3-pointer at the fourth-quarter horn. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Thanks to the Cardinals’ 1-3-1 zone trap, the Warriors (13-3) could do little through the first two periods, trailing 15-5 after one and 25-17 at the break.

Frankly, it felt like Randolph (16-2) was up by 20.

Roan Kelly, picking up where he left off Friday night in a win at Falconer, was draining 3-pointers like he was shooting at a hoop in his driveway — more on that later — and Drew Hind was scoring on alley-oops above the rim.

Momentum Cardinals.

“I see them everyday in practice and the confidence they have in each other,” Bennett said of his players. “I really felt that was missing in the first half. That was our challenge.”

Randolph’s Drew Hind drives to the basket while being defended by Salamanca’s Cory Holleran during Saturday’s basketball game at the Centercourt Classic at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute gym. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Avery Brown was up to it.

“He killed us,” Randolph coach Kevin Hind said. “The reason we lost is rebounding, and he was the reason why.”

The junior forward scored 8 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter to keep the Warriors within striking distance, 36-29, despite picking up his fourth foul early in the period. He then tallied Salamanca’s first three buckets of the fourth quarter to jump-start a 16-5 run, capped by Cory Holleran’s 3-pointer from the corner with just under two minutes remaining that gave the Warriors their first lead of the game, 45-43.

From there, it got really wild.

Kevin McElwain answered with a trey to put the Cardinals back on top, but then Holleran scored again for Salamanca on a nifty feed from Zach Trietley. Armed with a 47-46 lead with 55 seconds remaining, the Warriors were on the verge of putting the game away when Randolph turned the ball over with 26 seconds left.

Salamanca’s Lucus Brown, right, is closely guarded by Randolph’s Griffin Nelson during Saturday’s basketball game at the Centercourt Classic at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute gym. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Lucus Brown was immediately fouled and he hit one of two free throws to give Salamanca a 48-46 lead. The Cardinals missed a 3-pointer on their ensuing possession and Lucus Brown was fouled again, this time with 10.8 seconds remaining. Again, he made one of two charity tosses, leaving Randolph no other option than to attempt a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

With the Cardinals not yet in the bonus, Bennett wanted his players to foul to hinder Randolph’s chances of getting a good look at the basket while also taking time off the clock.

It never happened.

So guess who came through for the Cardinals in the clutch?

Kelly, whose off-balance trey from the top of the key hit nothing but net as the horn sounded, sending the game to overtime.

“He plays hard, he’s in good shape, he’s a good athlete and he’s a winner,” Coach Hind said.

Added Bennett: “That shot, to me, is my favorite part of the game because 90 percent of the teams in Western New York are then just going to fold. … We took a deep breath and we said, ‘Four more minutes.'”

In the extra session, Randolph led by as many as three, 54-51, following a 3-pointer by McElwain and a bucket by Drew Hind, but Trietley and Jaxson Ross both responded with driving layups, the latter coming at the 1:33 mark.

As it turned out, it was the final points of the afternoon.

Randolph missed a potential go-ahead layup with 32 seconds remaining and Salamanca misfired on a pair of free throws 10 seconds later. On the Cardinals’ final possession, Griffin Nelson had a clean look at a 3-pointer, but his shot didn’t fall. The Warriors cleared the rebound, the clock hit 0:00 and their celebration began.

And another chapter was added to a storied rivalry.

“To bring it up to Buffalo and show Western New York what it’s about is special,” Bennett said.

NOTES: Avery Brown finished with 22 points and six rebounds; Lucus Brown added 16 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists; and Holleran and Ross dished out six and five assists respectively for Salamanca. … For the Cardinals, Drew Hind led the way with 18 points, and Kelly and McElwain, who combined for 10 3-pointers, finished with 16 and 15 points respectively. … Salamanca returns to action Tuesday when it entertains Dunkirk in a Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 West game. Randolph, meanwhile, hosts Frewsburg in a Division 1 East contest.

SALAMANCA (55)

Herrick 0 0 0, Bradley 0 1 1, Gillman 0 0 0, Crouse 1 0 2, ABrown 11 0 22, Ross 1 0 2, LBrown 5 4 16, Holleran 3 1 8, Trietley 2 0 4. Totals 23 6 55.

RANDOLPH (54)

Morrison 0 0 0, Kelly 5 1 16, Hind 8 2 18, Nelson 1 0 3, McElwain 5 0 15, Brooks 0 0 0, Huntington 1 0 2. Totals 20 3 54.

3-point goals–LBrown 2, Holleran, Kelly 5, Nelson, McElwain 5.

Salamanca 5 12 12 20 6 — 55

Randolph 15 10 11 13 5 — 54

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