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With standout Marcellus Cooper in foul trouble, Jordan Barr knew it was his time to step to the forefront for the Amherst High School boys basketball team. And with the season on the line, he did just that.
Barr’s putback with 2.3 seconds left in the game gave the Tigers a thrilling 53-51 win over South Park in the Class A-2 Section VI championship game on Sunday afternoon at Buffalo State College.
I saw it bounce off the rim and I knew I wasn’t going to have time to go back up with it so I just tossed it up and went in,” Barr said. We’re such a close group and we have each other’s back. Marcellus got into foul trouble, I knew I was going to have to step up big.”
The shot capped a wild fourth quarter – and crazy final 30 seconds – and gave the Tigers back-to-back sectional championships. Amherst advances to the overall Class A championship game on Tuesday back at Buffalo State against North Tonawanda, which upset the Tigers’ Main Street rival and top-seed Williamsville South.
And Amherst needed everything it had to escape a similar fate. The Tigers seemed to be in good shape up four with under a minute left, but a Shakur Harris three and then immediate steal and layup by Jakari Woods gave the Sparks the lead.
Cooper gave Amherst the lead back again two seconds later with a pair of free throws. But the big man picked up his fifth foul with 10.2 seconds left, sending Harris to the line. South Park’s star made one to tie the score, setting the stage for Barr.
Daesean Ashley brought the ball up the court and took it to the rack, banking a shot off the rim. Barr was there for biggest rebound and basket of his career.
“Jordan’s a very good finisher at the rack and he was just in the right spot at the right time,” Amherst coach Chris Kensy said. “We were able to cash that one in and I’m very proud of him.”
Meanwhile, for the Yale Cup champion Sparks, it was a bitter ending to a sweet season. The Tigers were up 11-0 midway through the first quarter and seemed to be ready to roll but South Park showed its resiliency and battled back, finally taking its first lead late in the third.
“Our team is full of fighters,” Sparks coach Peter Hudecki said. “It’s just unfortunate that at the end, we didn’t have the ball in front of the rim instead of them. That’s the way the game goes, man. Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don’t.”
Barr, Cooper, Da’Shawn Hines and Will Alfieri all tied for the Amherst (20-3) team lead in points with nine, Ashley added eight and Richard Kay collected seven.
Harris led all scorers with 24 for the Sparks (17-5).