Saturday night brought about a full slate of boy’s high school basketball as the Section IV Tournament continued. While county residents had their pick of which games to attend, those that attended the quarterfinal contest between the Lansing Bobcats and the Watkins Glen Senecas were treated to a firework-filled game that made for an instant classic.
The three-seeded Bobcats took to the team’s home court for one final time in the season to battle with the Senecas, one of the hottest teams in all of Section IV, having powered their way through the later stages of the season after a slow start.
As the game started, it looked as though the Bobcats were caught off guard by the Senecas, who were looking to duplicate the effort from earlier this season when they won 56-48 in Lansing. Early turnovers saw the first few possessions go the way of Watkins Glen before the Bobcats were able to begin to generate offense.
An early made three-pointer from Bobcats’ senior Griffen Nelson sparked the offense that traded blows with the Senacas throughout the opening quarter. The early offense from the Senacas was generated by Joe Chedzoy, who used his aggressive lane play to draw fouls against the Bobcats, causing headaches for Lansing Head Coach Joey Volpicelli who said after the game, “We need to stop reaching and taking bad fouls.”
The second quarter was cause for concern for Watkins Glen as the Bobcats began to find the shooting rhythm that had led to so many victories over the course of the season. Lansing would create a number of open chances in the first half thanks to ball movement on the perimeter that opened shooting lanes for players like Langston Hopkins, Luke Winslow, and Garrett Bell.
Throughout the game, the Bobcats looked to generate movement from Ethan Burt, who, despite being positioned for advantages in the rebounding game, found himself moving through the offensive half, generating chance after chance for Lansing.
At the end of the second quarter, Lansing found the score to be heavily in its favor at 31-18. The Senecas were held scoreless on a number of possessions due to the suffocating press that was led by Winslow and Hopkins.
The second half started with Lansing finding the opening score, but momentum had begun to shift in favor of the John Fazzary coached Senacas. As he has done so many times this season, Isaac McIlroy led the charge for Watkins Glen, settling into his role as the dynamic shooter. Making baskets from hard-fought layups to contested threes, McIlroy led all scorers with 27 points and helped close the margin with 19 in the second half.
With a number of players in foul trouble, the Bobcats turned to Ben Vincent and Mathew Rebera, who contributed on the scoreboard and on the defensive side of the ball as Rebera was relentless with his pressure, forcing big, late game turnovers.
The Bobcats used the strong three-point play of Bell and the aggression and grit of Winslow to combine for 28 points and hold the Senacas without a shot on key positions.
With one final late push from the Senaca’s the game became a one-score game that was then grown to a two-score contest with late free throws from the Bobcats, an area where the team struggled on the night.
With late attempts to send the Bobcats to the free throw line taking too much time off the clock, the Senecas watched as the Bobcats punched their ticket to the Section IV semifinal with a 56-51 win.
After the game, Volpicelli praised the play of his team and spoke highly of Fazzary’s coaching of the Senecas. “I could not beat Fazzary when I was a player,” said Volpicelli. “We couldn’t beat his team the first time this year, but tonight we got it done when it mattered.”
With the win, the Bobcat’s improved to 15-5 on the season.
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