Foe In Regionals
Sherman hopes the speed of players such as Devon Moorhead can overcome the height of Batavia-Notre Dame in Saturday’s Class D Far West Regional.
P-J photo by Jay Young
By Jay Young
Fans of Sherman Wildcats basketball have had a lot to be proud of over the past few seasons with both boys and girls teams claiming Section 6 titles and making their respective runs into postseason competition.
But success always brings with it new challenges and now as this year's Wildcats (20-1), who are currently ranked as the No. 3 boys team in Class D by the New York State Sportswriters Association, move on to the Far West Regionals on Saturday they will have to contend with their most daunting task yet-a private school.
Last season after posting an excellent year with star Elle Reed (who now plays for the Jamestown Community College Jayhawks) that included a sectional title Mel Swanson's Lady Wildcats ran into a meat grinder in the Class D Far West Regionals and fell 70-32 to Batavia-Notre Dame of Section 5.
Following the unexpected result Swanson mentioned that "we're the Far West Regional public school winners," and that "sometimes it (stinks) to be a public school."
While the Sherman girls were dominant against fellow public school competition during the year they were unable to catch their breath against the Fighting Irish, who have the benefit of recruiting players to their team.
Now there is some deja vu in the air because Cory Emory's equally dominant boys team is slated to take on Batavia-Notre Dame (19-3) at noon on Saturday at Buffalo State and you can bet that the Sherman faithful will have vengeance on their minds.
"You know the girls talk about (playing Batavia-Notre Dame) a lot, but the boys, they understand that it is going to be two different teams playing each other,'' Emory said. ''Of course if we manage to win the game it would be a field day for the whole town."
That it would.
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From Page B1
While some coaches, fans, and players lament the mismatch of public schools having to face off against private teams, Emory doesn't consider the problem a serious one.
The Wildcats coach is more concerned with the things that he can control.
"I guess we just figure that we are going to play whoever it is that they put us against, whether it is a private or a public school, they do things a little bit different in Section 5,'' he said. ''At this point it does seem a little bit unfair, but at this time in the year every team you play is going to be good, whether public or private.''
The disparity in rosters will not be the only difference that is on display on Saturday as the two teams also feature two distinct styles of play.
Emory's team has totaled 20 wins thanks to excellent transition speed from veterans Ryan Robson and Devin Moorhead while the Fighting Irish are more size-oriented in their attack.
Only three players on the Batavia-Notre Dame roster measure under 6 feet, and its starting five includes players such as 6-foot-5 senior center Charlie Herbert and scoring machine Tim McCulley.
"On offense they have a really good player (in) Tim McCulley, he is averaging about 24 points per game and he is a 6-foot-3 guard, '' Emory said.''He actually scores a lot of his buckets on pull-up jumpers, which is a shot that a lot of high school kids don't have, and when he is 6'3 he kind of bounces up there and it doesn't matter who is guarding him.''
McCulley has led the way for the Fighting Irish on offense all year while Herbert has provided a more defensive focus with rebounding and averaged only four points per game.
Helping add points for Batavia-Notre Dame will be fellow senior Josh Johnson, another well-sized guard who stands at 6-1 and averages 11.5 points and three assists per game.
One thing that Sherman can look forward to is good play in the post from its own big men - Jake Card and Nathan Ottaway.
The pair played some of its best basketball of the year in the sectional title game against Panama and were able to wear down the Panthers as the game went on.
The Wildcats will not have size on their side come Saturday, but Card and Ottaway should be able to find success with their athleticism.
Emory still sees speed as his team's best attribute, especially going against a larger squad of players like Batavia-Notre Dame.
"We're hoping we that we can get the game into a transition game to emphasize our speed,'' Emory said. ''One of our mottos that we talk about is 'speed kills,' that has really been what happened this year. Our speed has worn down opponents, that's something that we work on to try and get easy buckets.''
No matter what happens on Saturday, both Emory and the town of Sherman are happy to have the opportunity to play at the next level after claiming their second consecutive championship in Section 6.
"I have been fortunate enough to be part of the football and basketball programs, and the town of Sherman has just been great,'' he said. ''People are getting ready to send us off downtown and people are bringing food for the kids on the trip. We had a big T-shirt sale to raise money, it's not just about sports or basketball, if anyone is in need we all come together to support a common cause. I can't say enough, everyone has been wonderful."
It always helps to have a cause to rally behind and right now that cause is beating the Fighting Irish.