Purple Eagles capture Section VI Class B1 championship
It’s over! That long four decade sectional title drought is finally over!
Getting off to a fast start with a big first quarter scoring surge, No. 4 seed Albion went on to defeat No. 10 Maryvale 65-57 this afternoon at Buffalo State College to claim the Section VI Class B1 title, the Purple Eagles first sectional championship in 43 years.
“Crazy, it’s been 43 years. It’s just crazy. It’s just humbling,” exclaimed senior guard Des Blackmon who led Albion with a game high 20 points.
“It just really feels great to finally win it,” beamed senior center Clayton Stanton who scored 16 points and dominated on the boards.
Tommy Mattison chipped in with 9 points, Austin Loyd and Manny Thompson 8 each and Alex Bison 4 for Albion which now advances to Tuesday’s Section VI Class B state qualifier game against B2 champion East High of Buffalo.
“They are just not going to let it end,” said a very happy Albion Coach Brennan Meakin. “Our motto is ‘don’t let it end’ and these guys have just been working their tails off. They’ve just really been working together as a team. They are determined not to let it end.”
Using an aggressive, ball hawking defense to key a fast break offense, Albion raced out to leads of 11-3 at the outset and 21-13 at the end of the first period.
A three by Loyd, a rebound bucket and a layup by Stanton who had a huge game inside, along with back-to-back fast break layups by Blackmon, gave Albion the 11-3 lead just three minutes in.
Another rebound bucket by Stanton, who earned the Character Award, followed by fast break layups off turnovers by Mattison and Loyd and layups by Thompson and Bison boosted the Purple Eagles advantage to 21-13.
“Clayton just had a huge day and Des, wow, what a game he had,” said Meakin.
Maryvale did cut the deficit to four at the outset of the second period but Albion answered right back with a fast break layup off a turnover and a three by Blackmon and a layup off a steal by Thompson to move back out to an 11 point, 28-17 advantage.
Blackmon, who had a total of 11 points in the period, tacked on another fast break layup off a turnover and a three with just two seconds to go to keep the Purple Eagles up by 11, 36-25, at the half.
“We wanted to force them to take contested jumpers and then get out and run on the break,” said Meakin, whose Purple Eagles kept up strong defensive pressure throughout which resulted in numerous Maryvale turnovers.
Keeping the momentum, Albion extended its advantage to 18, 43-25, three minutes into the third period after layup and a three by Mattison and a rebound basket by Stanton.
Maryvale though closed the period with 9-2 run, including two layups by Mike Keller, who had 12 on the day for the Flyers, to cut the deficit back to 11, 45-34, at the three-quarter mark.
Two buckets by Stanton, along with a three by Loyd and a layup by Mattison, kept Albion up by 13, 54-41, midway through the final period.
Maryvale though came battling back as a pair of threes by Ray Blackwell, who had 14 on the day, helped rally the Flyers back to within five, 54-49, with 2:40 remaining.
However, Albion turned back the challenge as Blackmon answered that surge with a huge three to quickly up the Albion leadback to eight, 57-49 with 2:25 remaining.
Stanton tacked on two free throws and Blackmon scored on a layup to keep the Purple Eagles up by nine, 61-52, with 1:45 to go.
Maryvale did pull back to within six, 61-55, with 1:20 remaining after a three-point play by York Brown, who had 9 of his 16 in the final stanza, but the Flyers could get no closer.
Thompson answered back with a layup and two free throws to close out the Purple Eagles’ victory.
“It’s surreal,” said Meakin of what just Albion’s second Section VI title. The first came 43 years ago in 1972 when the Purple Eagles nipped Salamanca 67-66 in overtime for the B2 title.
Albion will now face East at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State for the Section VI Class B berth in the state playoffs.
East edged past Fredonia 54-51 in the B2 championship game.