Albion had a long Holley tourney title run

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 5 January 2021 at 11:30 am

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Kyle Johnson, at left, earned MVP honors at the 1997 Holley Tournament which the Purple Eagles won igniting a seven year long title run. At right Albion’s Brian Allen goes to try and block a shot attempt by Kendall’s Charlie D’Agostino during the ’97 title contest.

Up until this Covid-19 Pandemic delayed basketball season the Holley Holiday Tournament was one of the area’s longest running tourneys having been played 35 times since 1983.

Albion has the honor of having the longest title win streak in the event’s history as the Purple Eagles claimed the crown seven years in a row from 1997 to 2003.

The Purple Eagles defeated  Kendall in the title game four times, Greece Odyssey twice and Lyndonville once during that run.

Albion rallied from an 11 point, 41-30, deficit after three quarters to trim Kendall 53-47 in the 1997 title game to ignite that run.

Joe Riley scored 13 of his game high 21 points in the decisive final stanza to lead Albion’s big 23-6 rally. Kyle Johnson, who earned tourney MVP honors, added 15 points on the evening for the Purple Eagles.

Jarrod Allen led Kendall with 18.

The title contest rematch in 1998 was not quite as close as Albion downed Kendall 72-59 to retina the tourney crown.

However, things got much closer again in the 1999 three-peat match-up as Albion trimmed Kendall 46-43.

The sea-saw contest wasn’t decided until Kendall misfired on two three-point shots in the final eight seconds.

Albion had opened up a 44-37 lead on a three-point play by Karl Rowcliffe but Kendall battled back to within one at 44-43 on baskets by Jared Maynard, Brian Cole and Jeff Cole. Two free throws by Bruce Rowcliffe with 31 sends to go made it 46-43 and Kendall could not connect on the last ditch threes to tie.

Karl Rowcliffe finished with 18 and Bruce Rowcliffe 15 to pace Albion while Maynard netted 12, Brian Cole 11 and Jeff Cole 10 for Kendall.

The 2000 title contest proved to be equally as close as Albion edged past Lyndonville 61-58

A rebound basket by tourney MVP James Ryan with 50 seconds to go provided the margin of victory for Purple Eagles.

It was a sea-saw battle down the stretch which saw Lyndonvile take its last lead at 58-57 with 1:10 remaining after layups by Jim Poler and Merle Fredericks.

Albion pulled even at 58-58 on a free throw by Dan Matthews with 51 seconds to go. He missed the second attempt but Ryan grabbed the rebound and scored on the put back to put the Purple Eagles back on top to stay.

Ryan led Albion’s balanced attack with 15 as Marcus Jones added 14, John Flor 11 and Matthews 10.

Poler took game high honors for Lyndonville with 23 as Fredericks added 21 and Jeremy Dent 12.

Then for the fourth time in five years Albion and Kendall met for the championship in 2001 and this time the Purple Eagles came away with a 60-51 victory.

Ryan Mayes scored 18, Derek Kinder 15 and Marcus Jones 10 to lead the way for Albion while Brett Jacobson tallied 14, Kevin Hamilton 11 and Kyle May 10 for Kendall.

Albion opened up as much as a 28-12 lead in the first half but Kendall battled back closing the deficit to just three, 46-43, with three minutes to go. The Purple Eagles though turned back the challenge on key baskets by Kinder and Mayes followed by nine free throws in the final 2:50 to claim a fifth straight title.

It was another close one for Albion in the 2002 title contest as the Purple Eagles came on strong in the final quarter to earn a narrow come-from-behind 45-43 victory over tourney newcomer Greece Odyssey.

The Purple Eagles finally took the lead for the first time at 31-29 at the outset of the final period on a basket by Larry Warren.

Albion extended its lead to 41-34 with two minutes to go after a 9-1 run which included three baskets by Chad Brooks and a thee point play by Matt Beach. Two clutch free throws each by Chris Ray and Derek Kinder kept the lead at 45-38 and then the Purple Eagles held off a late Odyssey rally to clam the title.

Kinder finished with 14, Brooks 12 and Ray 11.

The 2003 title contest was a rematch as Albion again bested Greece Odyssey this time by a 54-43 margin as Derek Kinder, who earned MVP honors for a third straight year, scored 15, Steve Ellis 13 and Chad Brooks 9.

Breaking away from a 27-27 tie late in the third quarter Albion took the lead for good with a key 10-2 run which featured a rebound basket and a jumper by Brooks, a three-point shot by Ellis and a layup by Kinder.

Odyssey did close to within six at 42-36 but Albion answered with two big three-point plays by Ellis off fast breaks to regain control.

Kendall finally ended Albion’s tourney reign by defeating the Purple Eagles 61-46 in the 2004 championship game.

In avenging those four previous title losses during Albion’s lengthy run, Kendall was led by Steve Batty with 21 as Justin Manners added 16 and Joe Brightly and Dan Halter with 10 each. Tyron Newsome led Albion with 10.