SILVER CREEK - Kaine Kettle celebrated his birthday in style on Friday night, scoring a game-high 29 points in leading the Silver Creek Black Knights (15-0, 10-0) to a convincing 78-51 win over Division 2 foe Cassadaga Valley (7-8, 2-7).
"It was a nice night for him on his birthday," Silver Creek coach Rob Genco said. "I was happy for him and he gives us that kind of effort every night, but being it was his birthday, I'm glad that he led us and was able to score 29 points."
Kettle scored 11 in the Black Knights' 33-point first quarter, helping the home team create a 19-point bulge as the teams entered the second.
"They came out wanting to play well against (Cassadaga Valley)," Genco said. "The last time we played against them, they did a nice job of causing us problems. It was a seven-point game here and there that last game, and our guys said it's time to buckle down. It's time to go to work. We're a couple of games out from the playoffs starting and we can't afford not to use every game to try and get better."
Sophomore Billy Brooks led all scorers in the first with 12 points, as he finished with 18 on the night to go along with 10 rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals.
"They have speed, defense, outside shooters and a (6-foot-7) big man," Clifford said referring to Brooks. "I put two of my guys together and I have a 6-7 big guy. But when a team is really, really good, you just have to go out there and compete."
The Cougars' defensive effort was better in the second as they held the Black Knights to 13 points while scoring 10 of their own, as Silver Creek took a 46-24 lead into the break.
"We gave up 33 points in the first quarter and 13 in the second," Clifford noted. "And the second half we gave up 32 points. I told them we need to forget about the score and play better each quarter."
Kettle matched his first-quarter output of 11 points in the third quarter while Brennan White added six, helping the Black Knights to 65-31 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
"I've been telling our guys that we're like a four-headed monster," Genco said. "We've got a very talented player in Brennan White and when you've got five guys, it makes us that much harder (to defend)."
"It's like I said, if a guy is better than you, or taller than you, we have to make it work," Clifford added. "But again, if you're playing your hardest every second of the game, and doing everything we ask of each other, there's no shame in that."
The Cougars had their best quarter in the fourth, outscoring the Black Knights, 20-13, as Tim Bender and Randy Dalaba each scored eight points.
"Everyone gave a good effort, but Tim (Bender) is a warrior," Clifford said, noting he has been battling a bout of the flu along various injuries. "He just played hard. He plays 100 miles per hour all game long."
Bender and Dalaba tied for the team-high in points at 19 while Dalaba added a team-high nine rebounds.
"I hope people can say that even if we lose by 100 points, that our kids never quit and they hustled," Clifford said. "And that's all I can ask of them."
Zeddie Williams, who had a team-high 26 points in Silver Creek's 71-62 win over Portville on Tuesday, had a quiet 11 points while adding a game-high 11 assists, which is something his teammates and Genco have become accustomed to.
"That's just what he does," Genco said. "He could have scored 20 points tonight if he wanted to. Guys like that, who sacrifice points, it speaks volumes to their character. And I know for a fact that guys like Billy Brooks and Brennan White appreciate what he does. That means more to me that his teammates appreciate it. He knows I appreciate it, but to hear them talk about how Zed's unselfish and how he gets them involved, it's awesome. And they appreciate it."
Williams added seven rebounds and two steals while Kettle finished with four rebounds and four steals to go with his 29 points.
"We just couldn't match up five guys with what Silver Creek had," Clifford said. "So we tried to do a few things, but Silver Creek, give them all the credit. I have the utmost respect for them. They are obviously one of the teams to beat in Class C-1 this year. It's going to be fun to watch them in the playoffs."
On Tuesday, the Black Knights fell behind the Panthers, 25-16 after the first quarter before Silver Creek came back with a 24-point effort in the second, taking a 40-35 lead into the break. A low-scoring third quarter allowed Portville cut Silver Creek's lead to two, 49-47. However, a strong showing in the fourth saw the Black Knights outscore the Panthers, 22-15, for the 71-62 final.
White finished with 21 points while Brooks chipped in nine, as the Black Knights improved to 14-0 and 9-0 in CCAA Division 2.
"I think everyone is pretty proud of the way Brennan has been playing," Genco said. "We're pretty supportive of him and encouraging him to have more of a role."