Olean gets to live out its fi­nal four dream

Huskies again hold foe­to­lessthan50

The Buffalo News - - HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - By Aaron Gar­land

GREECE — It was never hard to find them.

The seven se­niors who com­prise the Olean boys bas­ket­ball team’s main ro­ta­tion grew up play­ing hoops to­gether.

On AAU teams, pickup at St. Bon­aven­ture Univer­sity, at the YMCA, in the back­yard. Their court took many forms, no mat­ter the weather con­di­tions.

“We would play ev­ery sin­gle day,” se­nior guard Josh Bih­ler said. “If we had a snow day, we were at the Y, play­ing bas­ket­ball for five hours.”

“Or shov­el­ing the drive­way (to play),” said Mike Sch­midt, an­other se­nior guard.

Years later, the group has re­mained bas­ket­ball crazy. And as a re­ward for its fo­cus, it has re­al­ized a goal set in first grade.

Paced by se­nior Matt Droney’s 20 points and 12 re­bounds, the Huskies de­feated Greece Odyssey, 61-47, in Saturday’s Class B Far West Re­gion­als at Greece Athena High School.

The win sends the Huskies (25-0) to the state semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2016 — just like the team’s se­niors planned more than 10 years ago.

“They’ve been talk­ing about get­ting to the fi­nal four since they were in first grade,” Olean coach Jeff Anas­ta­sia said.

Droney said the Huskies’ tight-knit bond over hoops started when Mark Sch­midt was hired as St. Bon­aven­ture men’s bas­ket­ball coach in 2007, and Mike and his two brothers moved into the district.

“It feels like a movie and how it’s sup­posed to hap­pen,” said Mike Sch­midt, who fin­ished with 10 points, nine as­sists and eight re­bounds. “For us to get this far with the guys who are on our team, it’s some­thing spe­cial.”

Bih­ler had 11 points and eight re­bounds. The other four long­time bas­ket­ball buds — Jack Dwaileebe, Jar­rett Prizel, Brian Ra­marge and Alex Weak­fall — also con­trib­uted to the Huskies’ win against Greece Odyssey (20-4).

Weak­fall had 12 points and drilled a pair of 3-point­ers that keyed a 15-0 sec­ond-half run, which al­lowed the Huskies to pull away in a tight game. Dwaileebe also hit one of his two triples dur­ing that spurt.

De­fense, as al­ways, led the way for the un­beaten Huskies. For the 21st time this sea­son, they held their op­po­nent to less than 50 points — and they still haven’t had a game de­cided by sin­gle dig­its all sea­son.

“I told the kids be­fore the game, ‘You guys are dif­fer­ent from other teams be­cause you play Olean bas­ket­ball,’” Anas­ta­sia said. “Thirty-two min­utes of do­ing the lit­tle things that most teams don’t want to do. Most play­ers don’t want to dive on the floor or take charges. Our guys don’t care.”

Co­in­cid­ing with the early of­fen­sive strug­gles was Droney hav­ing to take a seat af­ter two quick fouls. Once he re­turned, the Huskies never looked back. Droney scored 18 of his 20 points over the fi­nal three quar­ters.

“That zone, our guards han­dled it great,” Droney said. “They found me in the mid­dle and it just opened up.”

Olean will play in the state semi­fi­nals against Syra­cuse signee Joe Gi­rard III and Sec­tion II’s Glens Falls, an 84-76 win­ner Saturday over Sec­tion X’s Og­dens­burg Free Academy.

The game is set for 9:30 a.m. Friday at Floyd L. Maines Vet­er­ans Memo­rial Arena in Bing­ham­ton.

James P. McCoy/Buf­falo News

Olean’s Mike Sch­midt scores two points over Greece Odyssey’s Aric Wil­liams Saturday af­ter­noon.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.