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Albion cagers have historic season

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 15 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Purple Eagles peak at right time to end sectional title drought

Photo by Bruce Landis – Albion’s Section VI Class B1 championship team included, in front, Alex Bison, Brady Meakin, Austin Loyd and Manwell Taylor. In the middle row are Tommy Mattison, Manny Thompson, Tyler Rotoli and Evan Pappalardo. In back are Assistant Coach Tim Archer, Des Blackmon, Clayton Stanton, Kory Reynolds, Gary Moore and Head Coach Brennan Meakin.

It truly was a tale of two seasons in what proved to be a history making year for the Albion boys varsity basketball squad.

Coming on strong after a so-so regular season, Albion made an historic run through the Section VI Class B1 playoffs capped off by the Purple Eagles claiming a title for the first time in 43 years.

Albion, which went just 10-9 during the regular season (8-6 in Niagara-Orleans League action), started clicking on all cylinders when the playoffs began utilizing an aggressive, ball hawking defense to key a fast break offense.

“Going into the season our expectations were really high but we just couldn’t put it together during the regular season,” said Coach Brennan Meakin. “However everything finally came together in the postseason. Everything clicked. The kids started to believe and play as a team. We wanted to peak at the right time and we did.”

Seeded No. 4, Albion opened with s 78-62 quarterfinal round romp over No. 5 East Aurora as Austin Loyd scored 19, Des Blackmon 18, Clayton Stanton 11, Alex Bison and Tommy Mattison 9 each and Manny Thompson 6.

The Purple Eagles then avenged a 54-42 non league season opening loss by upending top seeded Burgard 62-54 in the semifinals. Again the Purple Eagles featured a balanced attack as Stanton and Blackmon both tallied 16, Loyd 9, Mattison 8, Thompson 7 and Bison 6.

Keeping the momentum going at both the offensive and defensive ends of the court, Albion then downed No. 10 Maryvale 65-57 in the B1 title contest, the Purple Eagles first sectional title since 1972 (a 67-66 overtime win over Salamanca). Blackmon netted 20, Stanton 16, Mattison 9, Loyd 8, Thompson 8 and Bison 4.

“It was fun and exciting and it is something the kids and the coaches will always remember,” said Meakin. “By winning the sectional title we raised the bar not only for our school but also for our league.”

However, the Purple Eagles bid to earn a first ever trip to the state playoffs was dashed by a very quick Buffalo East team which bested the Purple Eagles 72-54 in the Section VI Class B state qualifier.

The Purple Eagles had three double figure scorers during the regular season as Loyd averaged 12.3, Stanton 10.2 and Blackmon 10. Stanton also grabbed off a team leading 151 rebounds during the regular season while Blackmon had 50 steals and Loyd 40 assists.