Throughout a most-difficult ordeal, Alec Tamburri’s many friends at Lancaster High School have been by his side. On Tuesday night, he was there for them.
Playing with a heavy heart just two days after the death of his mother, Tamburri scored a team-high 17 points to lead the Legends to an emotional 77-61 win over rival Orchard Park in ECIC I boys basketball action in the Lancaster Java Gym.
“I could feel my mom with me the entire game,” Tamburri said. “My teammates have had my back throughout this entire thing and I wanted to go out and get this win. It was a matter of trusting the process and playing my game.”
Lancaster improved to 5-4 overall and 3-0 in ECIC I with the win, ahead of Thursday’s showdown against perennial-favorite Jamestown. The victory was a strong opening to a three-game stretch over eight days that features the Legends facing the Quakers, Red Raiders and Williamsville North – the three teams that beat Lancaster last season.
All of that barely mattered on Tuesday.
“After the Clarence game, we talked about how we knew it was going to be a tough road ahead,” Legends coach John Otto said. “This puts everything in perspective. You just have to move on with what you have to do. Hopefully everyone rallies around him, which they’ve been doing, and makes sure he knows he has a great support system.”
Before the game, there was a moment of silence for Amy Tamburri, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 48. Legends cheerleaders wore gray socks and bows in support of the Tamburris. After each of Alec’s six field goals and three made free throws, he pointed to the sky and Lancaster’s bench stood.
“That performance was a blessing,” Otto said. “There has to be a higher power up there. Anyone that doubts that … if you saw that game tonight, you just don’t.”
Tamburri was pulled from the game with 9.7 seconds left in the game. He was greeted by hugs from coaches and teammates and a standing ovation from everyone in the gym – including the Orchard Park players, coaches and fans.
After the game, the junior guard walked around the gym as teammates and classmates lined up to offer hugs of support.
“Coach Otto and each and every one of my teammates have had my back this entire way,” Tamburri said. “It’s unbelievable the amount of support I have in this community.”
Earlier in the season, Otto took to Twitter to boast about how close-knit his Legends are this year. That fact was very evident on Tuesday night.
“We’re pretty tight here,” he said. “I put something out there earlier in the year about how close we were, not knowing this is something we were going to have to deal with. It’s proven with something like this.”
Tamburri led a group of four Legends in double-figures in the game. Jakob Jerebko scored 13 points, LG Castillo added 12 and Noah Speyer added 10. Dylan Anderson scored a game-high 24 for the Quakers (4-4, 1-2 ECIC I).
But this night was all about the strength of Tamburri, who also had eight assists and five rebounds. He entered the game averaging 9.9 points and had that mark topped by halftime. The junior, in his second varsity season and first as a starter, has played in all nine games this season. If he wanted Tuesday off, it’s highly-unlikely anyone would’ve have had a problem with that.
It still wasn’t happening.
“No thought in my mind that I wouldn’t play in this game,” he said. “My mom had the best seat in the house.”
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