Do You Remember: Albion’s last trip to the sectional finals

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 6 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s front line trio of Alan Ellis (32), Mark Babcock and Jim Owens (31) jump in unison for a rebound during the Purple Eagles Section VI Class B2 title game loss to Grover Cleveland in 1982 at St. Bonaventure University.

When Albion takes to the Buffalo State College court at 1:45 p.m. Saturday to face Maryvale for the Section VI Class B1 championship it will be the Purple Eagles first appearance in the finals in 33 years.

The last time was in 1982 and the location was the Reilly Center on the campus of St. Bonaventure University in Olean as the Purple Eagles took on the Grover Cleveland Presidents in the Section VI Class B2 championship game.

Utilizing a very deliberate, slowdown style of offense, Coach Dick Diminuco’s Albion squad stayed with the taller, fast break oriented Grover Cleveland quintet until well into the third period before bowing by a score of 51-35.

Breaking away from a 21-21 deadlock, Grover used a 9-2 run to close the third period and take the lead for good. The Presidents then put a lock on the contest with a 16-4 scoring burst over the first three and a half minutes of the final period.

The Albion lineup that day included seniors Dave Austin, Don Whitfield, Alan Ellis, Mark Babcock and junior Jim Owens along with sophomore Ernie McDonald who was brought up from the JV ranks just before the playoffs.

Whitfield led Albion against Grover with 12 points as Owens and Ellis both had 6, Austin 5, Babcock 4 and McDonald 2.

Albion had advanced to the finals with a pair of close wins, 65-60 over JFK in the quarterfinals and 45-43 over Eden in the semifinals. Eden had ousted Niagara-Orleans League champion Medina 57-55 in the quarterfinals. Ironically on Saturday, Albion will be facing a Maryvale team which nipped Medina 46-43 in the semifinals.

Ellis scored 15, including 9 of 11 from the free throw line, to lead Albion against Eden as Babcock and Whitfield both netted 8, Austin 7, Owens 5 and McDonald 2.

Whitfield poured in a season high 28 points to spark Albion past JFK, which interestingly was the Purple Eagles first post season victory since Albion captured its only Section VI championship in 1972 with a 67-66 overtime win over Salamanca. Austin and Babcock each chipped in with 11 against JFK.

Albion finished the 1981-1982 season with a 13-6 record.