The journey continues

Silver Creek’s run through the boys basketball playoffs makes its next stop today at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, where the Black Knights (22-0) will take on Mynderse (18-5), the Section 5 Class C champion, at 2:45 p.m.

“It was one of our goals for sure,” Silver Creek head coach Rob Genco said of his team reaching the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class C Far West Regional. “We feel like we set attainable, realistic goals and right now, I think that in their minds, they’re not content. Even though they’ve reached every goal we’ve set so far this year.”

The Black Knights were a win away from reaching this same game last year, but fell in the overall Section 6 Class C title game to OTC Middle College – now known as Middle Early College – 58-57. This season, Silver Creek got its revenge on the Kats, winning the Class C title, 67-62, on Tuesday night at Buffalo State, behind a 25-point performance from Zeddie Williams. The senior standout, who will attend the University of Virginia to play NCAA Division I lacrosse, added seven rebounds and five assists while being tasked with guarding the Kats’ best offensive player, Keir Anderson. Williams will be asked to guard the Blue Devils most lethal shooter, Brandon Passalacqua this afternoon.

“I’m going to put Zeddie on Brandon Passalacqua,” Genco said. “I think he’s covered better players in his last two games, but (Passalacqua’s) not far from them.”

Genco has been able to familiarize himself – and his team – with the Blue Devils, noting that he’s seen six games on film and one in person – their 47-43 win over Lyons in the Section 5 Class C final on Wednesday.

“They’re bigger than us,” Genco noted. “But they’re very slow paced. It’s not a complicated offense, but sometimes complicated isn’t good.

“Their size concerns me,” Genco continued. “The three big guys are a concern, but I think we can go into our 2-3 zone (defense).”

The big guys Genco speaks of are 6-foot, 5-inch junior foward Luke Ruddy, 6-4 senior center Connor Miller and 6-3 senior center Gungeet Bajwa.

“I like our speed against them,” Genco said. “I think we may be able to get out and run again. They have size, but we have speed.”

Aside from his team’s speed, Genco will counter the Blue Devils’ size with 6-7 sophomore Billy Brooks, who is coming off a 20-point, 21-rebound, eight-block performance in Tuesday’s Class C final.

“I think that (Josh) Watson for Portville was a better big man than (Luke Ruddy and Connor Miller),” Genco said. “They’re just thicker. I don’t think he’s seen kids who are as physical, but I think we’ll get the same Billy Brooks.”

The Black Knights have averaged 71 points per game in the playoffs compared to the Blue Devils’ 58.2. One might argue however, that the Black Knights could have trouble with the Blue Devils’ defense that has allowed just 43.4 points per game in the postseason.

“Jim Ricci is a shooter,” Genco noted of the Blue Devils’ 5-7 senior guard. “And they have Passalacqua and he’s tough too. So I think it’s (Ricci, Ruddy and Passalacqua) that we’re going to have to concentrate on. We like our matchups. We’ve done our homework and they’re doing it with lower scoring games than we’ve had.

“That might be their system,” Genco continued of Mynderse. “They might slow teams down that are used to scoring. We need to go in there understanding that this is the best team in Rochester.”

One thing is for sure, Genco is not worried about his team being unprepared in its quest to reach the NYSPHSAA Class C Final Four in Glens Falls.

“The last two days have been really good days,” Genco said. “I think all of us thought we could get here. The chances were slim, but we did it.

“This special journey is over if we lose,” Genco continued. “I don’t think they’re settled or content hanging it up just yet and their actions showed that the last two days.”

NOTES: The Black Knights have allowed 55.25 points per game during the playoffs … Williams is averaging 24.7 points per game … Brooks has had a double-double in 3-of-4 playoff games … The Black Knights are No. 2 in the New York State Sportswriters’ Association Class C poll while the Blue Devils are ranked 15th … The winner of today’s game advances to play in Glens Falls on Friday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m., at the Glens Falls Civic Center against either Section 9’s Pine Plains – the state’s No. 1 Class C team – or Section 11’s Stony Brook (No. 11 in the Class C poll).