The site was the same but the scene was different for the South Park High School boys basketball team.
A year after losing the Class A-2 Section VI championship at the buzzer, the Sparks made sure there would be no drama this time around, blowing open a competitive game in the third quarter and rolling to a 74-42 win over Lake Shore on Saturday evening at Buffalo State College.
“The guys were lining up next to next to me when they were doing the (postgame trophy) presentation,” South Park coach Peter Hudecki said, “and a kid was like, ‘OK, let’s go.’ And I said, ‘No, no, we get the plaques and everything.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t remember anything because last year I was crying so hard.’
“This year, you don’t get to cry,”
None of the South Park players were even close to being born the last time the program won gold. The Sparks won a boys basketball sectional title for the first time since winning four in a row from 1982-1985. South Park nearly got there a year ago, taking top-seed Amherst to the wire before losing on a put back by the Tigers’ Aaron Barr in the final seconds.
South Park’s starters were resting comfortably on the bench when this year’s buzzer sounded.
“It feels good,” Sparks senior guard Ray Mushat said. “Last year we lost a tough loss. This year we wanted to turn it around. I’m excited we because last year was heartbreaking. This year we got it done.”
South Park will face undefeated West Seneca West at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State for the overall Class A title and a shot at playing for a Far West Regional title. The Indians won the Class A-1 crown with an epic 97-95 win over Williamsville South in four overtimes.
“I’m excited for Tuesday,” Mushat said before his next opponent was determined. “I just want to keep pushing hard so hopefully we can win again.”
The first half was competitive throughout but the Sparks pushed the halftime lead to 8 after Dabeyon Humphrey banked home a buzzer-beater to give South Park an eight-point halftime lead. The Sparks blew the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 23-5.
“We trusted each other more,” Mushat said. “We just wanted it.”
David Stroud scored a game-best 23 points for South Park. Anthony Mack added 19 points for South Park (13-9).
Jon Park led Lake Shore (15-8) with 24 points.
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