Last season, the Silver Creek Black Knights defeated the Portville Panthers three times, including a playoff win.
Silver Creek coach Rob Genco is hoping history repeats itself tonight as the No. 1 seed Black Knights take on No. 4 Portville at 7 p.m. at Jamestown Community College in the Section 6 Class C-2 finals.
The Black Knights defeated Portville twice in the regular season, and as cliche as it may sound, Genco knows it is indeed tough to beat a team three times in a year.
“When you’re the better team, you beat them three times,” he said. “There is a lot of truth to it. It’s true because they know how we tie our shoes and put on our shorts. We know a little more because we have been successful in the two matchups this year.”
In order for Silver Creek to be successful, it must contain Portville point guard Zachary Blask, who reached the 1,000-point plateau Tuesday in a semifinal win over Maple Grove.
“It definitely does start with him,” Genco said. “He is a high-energy guy who can penetrate and shoot. If you give him room, he will hit the outside shot. If you get up on him, he drives. He also has great vision. If you’re going to double him, he will find guys under the rim. You have to stay on him.”
Silver Creek’s Zeddie Williams will have the task of guarding Blask, who has done a tremendous job in the past, according to Genco.
“I call Blask Superman, but I call Zeddie his kryptonite,” he said. “But if Zeddie makes a mistake, Blask will take advantage.”
One reason for Portville’s success against Maple Grove – the No. 3 ranked team in the state – was its ability to break the Red Dragons’ full-court press. Silver Creek learned three years ago not to press the Panthers for that very reason.
While Blask runs the offense, he is also aided by post-man Josh Watson. However, Silver Creek has 6-foot-7-inch Billy Brooks to counter, who has more than 100 blocks this season.
“He is good at tracking the ball and not getting his body into the shooter,” Genco said of Brooks. “If you want to attack him, he will ruin your possession. That’s the best part of his game is his shot blocking and rebounding.”
Because Portville knows Silver Creek so well, Genco is expecting a close contest tonight.
“They don’t make mistakes,” he said. “They are well coached. They are very disciplined. They have a good motion offense and throw different looks at you. They make adjustments. If something isn’t working, they have the ability to adjust. Every team has a (bad) night. What’s scary is we haven’t had that bad night yet. Our Achilles heel is if we get into foul trouble. It’s going to be a battle if that happens. It could go the other way. That would be the worst thing that happens to us.
“I know we will do what we have been doing,” Genco concluded. “Our brand of basketball will be there. I hope the recipe is the same where we have four or five guys in double digits. I just need one of them to be special. This year, Portville would have had a perfect season if we didn’t exist. If anybody deserves it, it’s them. If we have to be beat, it’s fair that it’s to them. It will be a good one. If we can run, we will win it. If we can beat them down the court and transition, we are fine. They know that. I expect it to be close. I expect it to be right down to the wire.”