Zack Panebianco headed to the Jamestown bench at McElrath Gymnasium on Friday night with just under five minutes remaining in the Red Raiders' Section 6 Class AA quarterfinal basketball game, but by that time his stat line had plenty of crooked numbers already.
From the floor, he shot 8-of-11 and finished with a game-high 19 points.
On the boards, he collected six rebounds.
Jamestown’s Zack Panebianco goes in all alone for a layup during the Red Raiders’ Section 6 Class AA quarterfinal win over West Seneca West.
Photo by Anthony Scott
And, as a distributor, he dished out seven assists.
From Coach Ben Drake's perspective, he'd never seen his sophomore point guard play better.
''He's just gained so much confidence the last couple of weeks,'' Drake said after top-seeded Jamestown's 71-38 victory over No. 9 West Seneca West. "He's such a mature player for his age and he's just one step ahead of everyone else.''
Panebianco's breakout game couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
For by claiming their 10th straight victory and 17th in 19 outings, the Red Raiders earned yet another berth in the sectional semifinals. That game is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday against No. 4 Clarence (15-4) at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. The Red Devils advanced by virtue of a 65-54 win over No. 5 Lockport (13-7).
''It's an expectation we have,'' Drake said of playing postseason games at Buffalo State. ''Fortunately, we're going back again this year and I think our experience there really accounts for a lot.''
Senior Tommy Campion will be making his fourth appearance there and will do so on the heels of an 18-point (7-of-12 from the floor), four-assist performance last night. Meanwhile, sophomore Branden Kellam added 13 points (6-of-10 from the field) and 10 rebounds. Together, Panebianco, Campion and Kellam combined to shoot 21-of-33 in a game Jamestown led, 35-20, at halftime and, 56-30, after three periods.
''Every step of the way you have to play a little bit better because the opponent is a little bit better,'' Drake said. ''Clarence is a good team and we've had a couple of good battles with them this year. Some things they do real well and we're going to have to do a good job against them.''
Continued excellence from Panebianco will help.
''He's starting to become an extension of me on the floor, which is what you want from a point guard,'' Drake said. ''It's taken some time, but he's now at the point where he'll look at me and he'll offer suggestions (what to run), which is what I would have chosen myself.''
And, last night, it often resulted in a spectacular play. Two of them will make any highlight reel.
The first one came in the opening quarter when Panebianco drove to the top of the key, dribbled behind his back and then feathered a pass to Kellam who was positioned on the low block. Kellam than hit a streaking Campion for a layup. On the Red Raiders' first possession of the fourth quarter, Panebianco lofted a perfect alley-oop pass to Kellam who threw down a two-handed dunk. By that point, Jamestown led West Seneca West (10-10), 58-30.
''The coaches have been telling me to be a little bit more aggressive because I'm not shooting enough,'' Panebianco said, ''but sometimes I'm willing to pass it up for a better shot for someone else, especially because I know (Campion) is the No. 1 guy. If he has an open shot, I should give it to him.''
Two years ago, Campion played a similar role as Panebianco when the Red Raiders claimed sectional and regional titles on their way to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship game in Glens Falls.
''Tommy was the fifth option on that team and Zack is not our fifth option,'' Drake said. ''He's our second option with Branden and Quinn (Lee Yaw).''
The way Jamestown is playing right now, all options are seemingly hitting on all cylinders.
''The expectation is to get to Buffalo State,'' Panebianco said. ''It's a lot of pressure, but we usually live up to expectations.''
NOTES: Lee Yaw finished with eight rebounds, a category in which the Red Raiders held a 33-15 advantage. ... Jamestown also shot 29-of-55 from the floor. ... In other Class AA quarterfinal action Friday night, No. 6 Kenmore West (14-6) stunned No. 3 Williamsville North (15-4), 56-53, while No. 2 Niagara Falls (16-3) held off No. 7 North Tonawanda (11-9), 61-50, by virtue of a 20-6 third-quarter run. ... Campion now has 1,096 career points and is in fifth place on Jamestown's all-time list. Carlos Rivera (2006-10) is at No. 4 (1,149).
WEST SENECA WEST (38)
Marshall 1 0 2, FBorzillieri 1 0 3, MBorzillieri 1 0 2, Walker 3 4 10, Clancy 5 0 13, Wheelock 3 0 6, Dawson 1 0 2, Totals 15 4 38.
Campion 7 1 18, Frank 0 0 0, Kinsey 0 0 0, Colwell 0 0 0, Larson 0 0 0, Sisson 0 0 0, Panebianco 8 0 19, Hoaglund 2 0 6, Carlson 3 1 7, Kellam 6 1 13, Lee Yaw 3 2 8, Totals 29 5 71.
3-point goals-FBorzillieri, Clancy 3, Campion 3, Panebianco 3, Hoaglund 2.
West Senenca West12 8 10 8 - 38
Jamestown21 14 21 15 - 71