BUFFALO - James-town coach Ben Drake and assistant coaches Marty Stockwell and Billy Miley walked down a hallway leading from their locker room to the court at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Thursday night.
As they did so, the trio was asked if they had any statistics from the Red Raiders' 73-61 victory over Clarence in the just-completed Section 6 Class AA semifinal.
''They're out there,'' Stockwell said, pointing in the direction of the gym.
Above, Jamestown’s Quinn Lee Yaw goes in for an easy two points against Clarence in Thursday night’s Section 6 Class AA?semifinal game at Buffalo State. Below, Zack Panebianco of the Red Raiders also scores a pair.
Photos by Anthony Scott
Then, without missing a beat, he added: ''Zack (Panebianco) had 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.''
Jamestown's sophomore point guard made it easy to commit to memory what he did on Western New York's biggest hoops stage.
Drives to the basket?
Bombs from beyond the arc?
Passes to teammates for layups?
In one of the best postseason performances by a Jamestown point guard in recent memory, Panebianco showed the rest of the section a skill set that is blossoming at just the right time. His efforts, in combination with some stellar performances by his teammates, propelled the top-seeded Red Raiders (18-2) into the sectional title game for the fourth straight year. The contest is scheduled for 8:15 p.m., Saturday at Buffalo State.
No. 2 Niagara Falls.
The Wolverines (17-3) advanced by virtue of a 72-62 victory over No. 6 Kenmore West in the other semifinal.
''I guess it's the annual matchup we look forward to,'' said Drake, who will be making his 10th appearance in the sectional final in 15 seasons at his alma mater, including the last four in a row. "... We expected to be here. We've been in the gym and working on this since last April. These guys feel we've worked too hard not to be here. Once we get here, it's a matter of expectation and playing Jamestown basketball.''
For most of last night's game, the Red Raiders played just as their coach had hoped.
An 18-2 run gave Jamestown an early cushion - it led 20-15 after the first quarter and 36-26 at the break. The Red Raiders eventually padded the lead to as many as 21 points, 58-37, late in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Panebianco, who had 12 points in the third period alone.
''Zack's been solid all year and so consistent,'' Drake said. ''It just seems in the last few weeks he's played with more confidence.''
''I knew I would have to step up,'' Panebianco said.
A week after scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out seven assists in the Red Raiders' quarterfinal win over West Seneca West, he was even better last night. Sitting only briefly, Panebianco shot 10-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the arc, hit 3-of-5 free throw attempts and had only two turnovers despite facing heavy pressure from Clarence's guards.
''We ask him to do a lot, and he came through tonight in really every phase of the game,'' said Drake, who raised his career record to 261-78. ''He handled the ball, he handled the pressure, he got the ball where he needed to get it and then he also just made great reads. Every time, he knew when to go take it himself and when to drop it off to someone else for a great shot. He just controlled the game.''
Drake was quick to point out the contributions of junior Quinn Lee Yaw (16 points on 8-of-10 shooting and six rebounds), senior Tommy Campion (16 points, five assists and two steals), and sophomores Branden Kellam (six points, 10 rebounds) and Stephen Carlson (nine points, five rebounds). Together, they helped the Red Raiders shoot 29-of-49 from the floor (59 percent) and hold a 33-24 rebounding advantage.
To their credit, the Red Devils never quit, closing to within nine points, 65-56, following a trey by junior Ryan Funk with 2:09 remaining. But Lee Yaw scored from in close following a feed from Campion, and Carlson canned a layup after Jamestown successfully broke the Clarence press. The Red Devils didn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Senior Bryan Jost, who had five 3-pointers, led Clarence with 19 points, 16 of them in the first half; Funk had 12, all in the second half; and junior Emaure Williams added 11.
While the Red Devils end their season 16-5, the Red Raiders move on for a meeting with Niagara Falls for the third straight season.
''It's the next step in a long road and we want to go all the way,'' Panebianco said. ''On Saturday, we'll be ready.''
Florio 2 1 5, Williams 4 2 11, Case 1 0 2, Jost 6 0 19, Schmit 2 4 8, Harof 1 0 2, Funk 5 0 12, Craven 0 2 2, Totals 21 11 61.
Campion 5 4 16, Colwell 0 0 0, Panebianco 10 3 26, Carlson 3 3 9, Kellam 3 0 6, Lee Yaw 8 0 16, Hoaglund 0 0 0, Totals 29 10 73.
3-point goals-Jost 5, Williams, Funk 2, Campion 2, Panebianco 3.
Clarence15 11 13 22 - 61
Jamestown20 16 22 15 - 73