MEC eases past Silver Creek for Class C-1 title

JAMESTOWN – The No. 4 Silver Creek Black Knights met their match Friday night against the No. 2 Middle Early College Kats in the Section 6 Class C-1 boys basketball final.

Silver Creek was able to keep the game close early, but eventually the Kats’ speed and athleticism took over en route to a 64-51 victory.

“They’re a great team. We’re a great team,” Silver Creek coach Rob Genco said. “They prepared all year to make a run in the playoffs and we didn’t necessarily get started until the end, and this week, preparation wise, it wasn’t our best preparation week attendance wise. I knew it would be tough.”

Both teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter and entered the second period tied at 15-all. Billy Brooks led Silver Creek early on with six points in the opening quarter.

The game remained evenly matched throughout the second quarter and with two minutes to play in the first, the teams were deadlocked at 27.

From that point forward, it was all Middle Early College. The Kats finished the first half on a 12-1 run and took a 39-28 lead into halftime.

With 3-point shooter Brennan White on the bench with an injury, Silver Creek struggled to stretch the floor. As a result, Middle Early College was able to key on Brooks and pack the post making entry passes nearly impossible.

“When Brennan went out it turned the momentum,” Genco said. “He hurt his knee in the last game. He couldn’t practice all week. He tweaked it right away (Friday). We were even with them. It was a tie game and then he came out and it takes a lot of our depth away. That run started when Brennan went out.

“We haven’t done well against zones all season,” Genco added. “Middle Early College played it well. They’re quick, athletic and they force a lot of turnovers. We had a real problem getting it inside to Bill (Brooks).”

The Kats’ athleticism was on full display in the second half. Silver Creek’s defenders struggled to stay in front of ball-handlers the entire game and the fouls began to mount up as the game went on.

Silver Creek trailed 53-37 going into the final period and the Kats were in a double-bonus situation just two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Black Knights’ fouls continued to mount and Middle Early College consistently knocked down its shots from the line.

Midway through the fourth quarter the Kats held a 20-point lead, 61-41, and it became clear the Black Knights’ run was over.

Brooks fouled out with four minutes to play and other Black Knight defenders soon followed.

Senior Kaine Kettle did his best to keep his team in the game, but eventually even his shots ceased to drop and the celebration was on for Middle Early College.

“I’ve had Kaine since he was in ninth grade,” Genco said. “When I started he started. It’s hard to envision that there isn’t going to be a No. 3 with a ponytail running around on my court. I’m going to miss him. Just like every year, you miss those guys.”

Kettle finished with 10 points and five rebounds. He finished his career as one of the Black Knights’ most clutch shooters during his time on the team. On top of his contributions this season, Kettle was a major contributer to last season’s team, which made it to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinals. His 3-point shooting has kept the Black Knights in many games and has helped spark the team to victory on multiple occasions.

Brooks had 13 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the loss before fouling out down the stretch.

Senior Andrew John scored a team-high 15 points while White scored six points and had four assists.

Bri’an Brown led Middle Early College with 24 points. Teammate Kevin Briggs added 19 points in the win.

“Middle Early College is a team we’ve seen three years in a row,” Genco said. “We actually hadn’t lost on this court, but just getting here doesn’t make you feel any better when you lose and say goodbye to some guys I’ve been coaching for years.

“This season was a learning experience for me,” Genco continued. “I always think things happen for a reason and God reminds you why you have this platform and what the big picture is. I learned a lot from it about what I’m going to do if I’m ever faced with a situation with a lot of the adversity we dealt with. I’m going to take it as a learning experience and to just be a better coach.”