There are three players who Sherman coach Cory Emory looks to when his squad needs a big shot. They are, in no particular order, Ryan Robson, Andrew Graham and Devin Moorhead.
"We're a very young (team) so my three leaders are my returners: Ryan Robson, Andrew Graham and Devin Moorhead," Emory said. "They've taken over that leadership role, especially during games, and when we need a big bucket they're the people we're looking for."
On Saturday night that trio came through in a big way during Sherman's 66-50 victory in the opening round of the Southwestern TaBone Christmas Classic.
Sherman’s Devin Moorhead looks to pass during the Wildcats’ first-round tournament game against Salamanca on Saturday night. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Holding a tenuous one-point advantage, 42-41, over Salamanca heading into the fourth quarter, Graham, Robson and Moorhead - in that order - knocked down back-to-back-to-back treys as part of a 12-0 run. Robson capped the scoring spree with a classic three-point play after being fouled on a layup. That 2-minute span expanded the Wildcats' advantage to 13 points, 54-41, and all but clinched the victory at Jamestown Community College's Physical Education Center.
"That was huge," Emory said. "We hit a couple of 3s, which we do shoot a lot of because I know that I have some pretty good shooters, and we managed to string three of them together. That was the difference in the game right there."
Sherman, which hit 3 of 5 triples in the fourth quarter after going just 3 of 16 over the first three periods, used the early run to build momentum and outscore Salamanca 24-9 over the final eight minutes.
"We just didn't hit our shots in the second half," Salamanca coach Brian Koscielniak said. "When we hit shots we're dangerous, when we don't it's not pretty.
"It wasn't pretty for us in the second half tonight."
With the win, Sherman will square off against Southwestern, which defeated Chautauqua Lake in the other game, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Salamanca and Chautauqua Lake will play for third place at 6 p.m.
Graham, who added two more free throws late in the game to seal it, finished with a team-high 29 points. Moorhead tallied six points but also contributed in other ways as he piled up nine steals, seven assists and five steals. Robson had seven assists and Nathan Card hauled in a team-high eight rebounds.
Sherman, now 5-1 overall and currently ranked No. 11 in Class D for the state by the New York State Sportswriters Association, got off to a fast start through good ball movement against Salamanca's 1-3-1 zone, quick hands (which created 15 steals by game's end) and a go, go, go mentality. Eight of the Wildcats' first 12 points, in fact, were scored on the fast break.
And though the numerous easy baskets in the first half weren't enough to build a solid advantage - Sherman trailed, 17-14, at the end of the first and held just a one-point lead, 27-26, at the break - it was that fast pace that contributed to the game-clinching run in the fourth.
"I felt that we had tired them a little bit," Emory said. "Not that they were dead tired, but they didn't rotate quite as quick. So all of a sudden the shots that weren't there earlier in the game were there in the fourth quarter. The defender's hand wasn't in our face anymore and things like that."
For Salamanca, which was without their top scorer, Damion Taylor, Tanner John led with 13 points and Joe Hinman connected on three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to follow with 11.
Crandall 1 0 2, John 5 3 13, Stahlman 3 3 9, Hinman 3 2 11, Beattie 1 1 3, Ball 2 0 4. Totals 19 9 50.
Robson 7 2 18, Graham 10 6 29, Moorhead 2 1 6, Myers 1 0 2, Greiner 3 0 66, Card 1 1 3, Ottaway 1 0 2. Totals 25 10 66.
3-point goals: Hinman 3, Robson 3, Graham 3, Moorhead.
Salamanca17 9 15 9 - 50
Sherman14 12 15 24 - 66