The Bulldog faithful left Kenmore East High School very estatic Friday night as both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams defeated their archrival the Kenmore West Blue Devils in the doubleheader.
At the end of the night, the fans stormed the court as the boys’ team finished a thrilling back-and-forth 59-55 victory, beating the Blue Devils for the first time since 2008.
“It feels amazing. It’s been a long time. We’ve put in a lot of work and its finally come,” said junior Nate Murdie, who led the Bulldogs with 27 points. “We wanted this win and we got it.”
Despite the long losing streak, Kenmore East head coach Jay Robbins insists that the two teams have been closer than many realize.
“We’ve had plenty of chances to beat them,” Robbins said. “To me the whole idea that they’ve dominated us is overblown.”
The Blue Devils fought back and tied the game at 46 with 4:40 left after being down 42-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
But just five seconds after Ken West junior Kyle Schmidt hit the game-tying shot Murdie hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs back the lead for good.
Murdie was fouled was after a Blue Devil timeout, he missed both free throws but the Dogs got the rebound and eventually found Murdie who hit a long three-point shot to extend the lead to 52-46 with under four minutes left.
The junior followed it up with another made shot from downtown before West could score again.
“I was catching fire,” Murdie said. “They kept giving me the ball so I kept scoring more.”
Senior Kahlil O’Neil made a heads up play that prevented Ken West from making it a one-score game with 2:15 left. O’Neil saw his center get trapped along the boundary deep in the Bulldog end and called a timeout just before a steal or turnover could’ve happened.
“He deserves it,” Robbins said of O’Neil being a leader for Ken East. “He was one of the kids who had to come up and play when there was nobody. He’s been there and got his but handed to him plenty of times, but he’s persevered.”
Ken East started the game hot jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first minute of the game. O’Neil and classmate Brandon Baker made back-to-back layups and then O’Neil came up with a steal and found Murdie on the fast break before the Blue Devils called a timeout to end the run. The Bulldogs held on and led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Kenmore West fought back in the second quarter. Senior Erick Rainey got a bucket and Schmidt picked up two to bring the Blue Devils within one point of Ken East. Sophomore Zac Boyes followed it up with a ‘3-pointer’ to give West a 21-20 lead with 1:20 left.
But Murdie responded with back-to-back three-pointers helping the Bulldogs take a 26-23 lead into the half.
“He’s hitting his stride. (Like Murdie) I played football; when you do that you don’t get your timing until about halfway through the season,” Robbins said of Murdie. “That’s what’s happening to him. You can see the skill level.”
Both teams went back-and-forth for most of the third quarter. Junior D’Anzo Young gave the Dogs a four-point lead 31 seconds left. O’Neil then found Murdie on the break to give Ken East the eight-point lead heading into the final stanza.
Young scored 11 points while scored O’Neil 8 for the Bulldogs.
“Credit to East,” Kenmore West head coach Mike Meetze said. “They played excellent and beat us in the hustle stats tonight. We hit a couple shots but we didn’t execute and make plays.”
Andrew Fron led the way with 18 points for the Blue Devils. Teammate Dylan James had 10 in the losing effort.
Kahlil O’Neil of @BulldogsBasket after their 59-55 win over Ken West
It’s the first win for Ken East over the Blue Devils since 2008@bufnewspreptalk #preptalklive @KEAthletics @KenTonAthletics @centercourt42 @Kahlilll_Oneill pic.twitter.com/lQsEGGWLmM
— WNY Athletics (@WNYAthletics) January 20, 2018
In the preceding game, senior Serena Sordetto led the Lady Bulldogs with 23 points as they took down Ken West, 56-33.
Kenmore East went on a quick 6-0 run to start and built a commanding 20-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Senior Lexi Lagattuta took the ball off the tip and went down and scored. Sordetto got a layup and then stole the ensuing in-bound pass and turned it into points.
The teams traded buckets with a 12-12 second quarter, but the Bulldogs pulled away in the third with a 9-2 run in the final 4:10 of the quarter.
Ken West head coach Jeff Martin thought his girls fought hard but the early deficit was too hard to overcome.
“We didn’t quit, we fought hard and I thought our second half was better than our first,” Martin said. “But the first quarter really hurt us.”
Lagattuta and Carianne McCarthy finished in double-figures for the Bulldogs. Jenna Romano led the Blue Devils with 10 points.
“We’ve really been struggling offensively since coming back from the Christmas break,” Ken East head coach Les Simon said. “We made a concerted effort to go inside tonight.”
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