By Scott Kindberg
BUFFALO - With under a minute remaining in Saturday afternoon's Class D Far West Regional, the Sherman Central School basketball fans who filled the stands at the Buffalo State Sports Arena couldn't contain themselves any longer.
Photos by Scott Kindberg
Top: Sherman’s Jake Card (13) splits a pair of Batavia Notre Dame defenders on his way to the basket during Saturday’s Class D Far West Regional. Bottom: The Sherman Wildcats celebrate their Class D Far West Regional win over Batavia Notre Dame on Saturday.
"We're from Sherman and we couldn't be any prouder,'' they chanted over and over, "and if you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder.''
In reality, though, the Wildcats' faithful didn't have to make any more noise.
Coach Corey Emory's players had already made plenty of it on the court already.
Sparked by lights-out shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, the third-ranked Wildcats led by 20 points at intermission and held on for a 57-52 victory over No. 4 Batavia Notre Dame of Section 5.
The win vaults Sherman (21-1) into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four next weekend at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Wildcats will meet Coleman Catholic at 10 a.m., Friday.
"I think a lot of people didn't give us a chance,'' Wildcats coach Cory Emory said. "(People were saying), 'It's a private school, it's Batavia Notre Dame, they're very big and you don't have a chance.'
"I think our guys used that as fire. Our guys step on the court and they think they can beat anybody. They're not afraid.''
If Sherman is as comfortable in the North Country venue as they were at Buffalo State yesterday, the Wildcats will be a tough out next week.
Make that very tough.
In one of the more incredible exhibitions of perimeter shooting seen at Buffalo State, the Wildcats hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter in building a 16-5 lead, added six more in the second, including three in the final two minutes, and took a 40-20 margin into halftime. It was as if they were having a shootaround in the friendly confines of the Sherman Central School gym.
"After a few dropped," Emory said, "I turned to one of my assistants and said, 'Holy cow, here we go.''
How deadly were the Wildcats from the perimeter in the first two quarters?
Andrew Graham was 4-for-7, Ryan Robson 3-for-5, Devin Moorhead 2-for-4 and Ryan Myers 1-for-3. All told the team was 10-of-20. Throw in 12 Notre Dame turnovers and only two points from leading scorer Tim McCulley and it was no wonder that Emory had a smile on his face as he returned to the bench after halftime.
"I don't think they were thinking about where they were shooting it from,'' Emory said. "They were just running and shooting it and splashing them in the first half.''
Robson finished with 22 points, Graham 14 and Moorhead nine. Jake Card added 12 rebounds and, collectively, the Wildcats did a good job defensively, holding the Fighting Irish to only 16-of-55 shooting, including 7-of-27 in the first half.
"Everybody is going to look at the offense, but they only had 20 points, McCulley only had two and we forced a lot of turnovers," Emory said. "They were bigger than we were, but we wanted to see if they wanted to run with us and play that open game we want to play, and it happened to be to our advantage, at least in the first half."
Notre Dame made its way back into the game after intermission, using a 15-5 run to close to within, 53-43, following a 3-pointer by Jason Hart with 3:37 remaining, but the Fighting Irish (18-4) didn't seriously threaten the lead the rest of the way as Sherman hit just enough free throws to secure a trip to Glens Falls next week.
"We talked about it as managers (growing up) and now we're finally here,'' Robson said.
NOTES: Robson finished 5-of-9 from the arc, Moorhead was 3-of-6 and Graham 4-of-10. Josh Johnson led the Fighting Irish with 16 points, McCulley had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Caleb Nellis added 10 points.