Albion cagers seek berth in state tournament

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 9 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Manny Thompson (14) and his Albion teammates will face East High of Buffalo Tuesday at Buffalo State College in the Section VI Class B state qualifier game.

Regardless of the sport, all coaches strive to have their teams peak at just the right time, and that is exactly what the Albion High basketball squad has done.

After a so-so regular season (8-6 Niagara-Orleans League, 10-9 overall), Albion has been clicking on all cylinders in post season play.

Albion has rattled off three straight victories to capture a section VI championship for the first time since 1972 when the Purple Eagles nipped Salamanca 67-66 in overtime for the Class B2 title and move to within one win of gaining a berth in the state tournament.

“It’s finally clicking,” said Albion Coach Brennan Meakin. “Our expectations this year were very high but it just didn’t come together during the league season. It just never clicked. But now it is. We’re just really playing well as a unit. The kids have really bought into what we’re trying to do. They get it and its all clicking.”

No. 4 seed Albion defeated No. 5 East Aurora 78-62 in the quarterfinals, No. 1 Burgard 64-54 in the semis and then topped No. 10 Maryvale 65-57 Saturday in the Class B1 championship game.

That victory has advanced Albion to the Section VI Class B state qualifier game against Class B2 champion East High of Buffalo at Buffalo State College at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Albion utilized an aggressive, ball hawking defense to key a fast break offense in earning the championship game victory over Maryvale which had upended No. 2 Depew and No. 3 Medina to reach the finals.

Senior center Clayton Stanton, who scored 16 points against Maryvale, has been dominant inside for Albion.

Senior guard Des Blackmon, who has keyed the Purple Eagles fast break attack both from three-point range and on drives to the basket, netted a game high 20 against the Flyers.

The Purple Eagles attack in the title contest also included 9 by Tommy Mattison, 8 each by Austin Loyd and Manny Thompson and 4 by Alex Bison.

East, which has captured the B2 title the last three years in a row, edged past Fredonia 54-51 n the title contest as senior guard Percy Bryant led the way with 24, including 9 in the decisive fourth quarter.

“Percy is a pretty dominant athlete,” said Meakin. “I’ve seen him in AAU tournaments take over some big games. We definitely stuffed our schedule with teams like St. Francis, Burgard and Oracle to get ready for teams like East and we’ve been OK in those situations. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We can score with anybody we just have to get on the boards and play sound defense. When we play as a team, like we have been, with the talent we have we can play with anybody.”

The winner will advance to the Far West Regional on Saturday to face the Section V Class B champion (either Leadership Academy of Rochester or Wellsville).