What the Bishop Kearney Kings possess can't be simulated in practice.
No, with a starting five each reaching heights in excess of 6 feet, it's something that the Jamestown Red Raiders can only experience firsthand when they step out onto the court at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester at 8:45 p.m., Saturday.
"They're a very big team," Jamestown coach Ben Drake said, "and there's some things that they do very well that will present a real challenge for us; that kind of size is hard to simulate."
Jamestown senior Tommy Campion will be playing in his third Class AA Far West Regional in four years when the Red Raiders meet Bishop Kearney at 8:45 p.m., Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg
Sherman's Andrew Graham
The Jamestown Red Raiders will meet Bishop Kearney at 8:45 p.m., Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
P-J?photo by Scott Kindberg
The Sherman Wildcats will take on University Prep at 1 p.m., Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Their size is indeed ... ample.
The front line, touted during the preseason as possibly one of the best in Rochester-area basketball history, includes 6-foot-10, 260-pound, Syracuse-bound junior center Gods Power Ogide; there's also 6-9, 210-pound senior Chinoso Obokoh, who is averaging 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game; and finally there's sophomore power forward Thomas Bryant, who at 6-foot-8 is averaging 13.1 per game and a team-high 9.7 rebounds.
But it's their "smallest" - and best - of the starting five in whom Drake is particularly interested - Antwoine Anderson, a 6-foot-1 point guard who earned Section 5 Class AA-1 Most Valuable Player honors and is averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game this season. It was Anderson, Drake noted, that put the Kings on his back during the Section 5 Class AA regional qualifier against Greece Athena on Wednesday.
"To be honest, the big guys get most of the attention, but their most dangerous player is the point guard, Anderson. He's very quick and their best shooter. In the sectional final, (Bishop Kearney) was down seven or eight points, and he just took over."
Anderson finished with 19 points, along the way connecting on three triples, in the 63-51 victory for the Kings.
Bishop Kearney (14-7), which is ranked No. 14 for Class AA in the state and is coached by Jamestown-native - and Drake's childhood friend and former neighbor - Jon Boon, has won three straight sectional titles.
"We know what we need to do to be successful," Drake said. "We have to be phenomenal rebounding and boxing out, because with that size they are able to get a lot of easy putbacks, and we have to contain Anderson."
While Jamestown, ranked No. 16 in the state, will certainly have its hands full this weekend, so too will the Kings.
Jamestown clinched its third sectional title in four seasons - and 11th in school history - in a 46-39 victory over rival Niagara Falls.
The Red Raiders, who own a 19-2 record overall, boast a number of talented athletes; athletes who could cause problems for the sizable Kings.
In addition to the team's lone senior, Tommy Campion, who is leading the team with 22 points and three assists per game, there's sophomore Zack Panebianco and a pair of athletic posts in Quinn Lee Yaw and Branden Kellam.
Panebianco, whose confidence has been growing with each contest, has averaged 19 points per game during the playoffs; while Lee Yaw and Kellam combined for 20 points and 18 rebounds per game this season.
"I like our mindset right now," said Drake, who owns a 262-78 career record. "The kids are a confident group, we're playing our best basketball right now and we're looking forward to it."
The University Prep story is one that has captured the hearts of Section 5 basketball fans.
If all goes well for Sherman, the Wildcats will bring that story to an abrupt end on Saturday at 1 p.m., at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena.
A charter school that has been in existence for just three years, this was the first season in which the school had varsity athletics. Along the way the squad has gone 18-3 this season, risen to No. 2 in the state for Class D by the New York State Sportswriters Association and, on Tuesday night, clinched its first-ever sectional title behind a 67-61 victory over the CG Finney Falcons in the Section 5 Class D crossover final.
University Prep did all that with a team that consists of seven sophomores, four freshmen and three eighth-graders.
But don't confuse age with talent, cautions Sherman coach Cory Emory.
"They're very young, but definitely don't play like it," he said. "They may be young in school years, but they're certainly not young with how they play the game of basketball."
A guard-oriented team, "veteran" sophomore Cameron Myles leads the group with 18 points and eight boards per game while 5-foot-4 freshman Brandon Hunt follows with 14 points and eighth-grader Marique Simkin is close behind with 11 points to go along with four rebounds, four steals and five assists per contest.
It was Simkin who was named MVP during in the squad's Class D-1 overtime victory over Fillmore.
"They're pretty good at everything," Emory said. "They have a couple of quick guards, a good shooter or two and don't have and terrible weaknesses. They prefer to score from the outside and can also slash to the bucket rather than pounding the ball inside."
It's not often the Wildcats, who behind leading scorers Andrew Graham (14 points per game) and Ryan Robson (13 per) are currently ranked No. 4 in the state at 17-5 overall, square off against a team that is just about as quick as they are.
"We're guard-oriented as well," he said, "and we're used to being the quicker and smaller team. In this game we're kind of looking at the (mirror image) of ourselves."
And it will be how his Wildcats handle that speed - and, of course, the big stage - that will determine the victor.
"For me it comes down to, 'How will we react?'
"We're both young teams - we start four juniors and a sophomore - so it'll be a game where most of the time a senior won't be out on the floor. So for both teams it'll be the atmosphere, and whichever one reacts to it and handles the moment better."
Silver Creek will square off against Section 5's Mynderse in the Class C Far West Regional on Saturday at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
The game, which will determine which squad will compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state boys basketball tournament in Glens Falls, is slated to begin at 2:45 p.m.
Led by senior standouts Zed Williams and Steve Marcey, and sophomore Bill Brooks, a 6-foot-7 center, the Black Knights have put together an unblemished, 22-0 record this season while rising to a No. 2 ranking in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll.
Mynderse, at 17-5, is No. 15 in the state.