WNY Athletics

West Seneca West Claims Class A-1 Championship With Four OT Win Over Willliamsville South

As Saturday’s epic Class A-1 Section VI boys basketball championship game entered a fourth overtime, Juston Johnson knew that eventually they were going to turn out the lights at Buffalo State College’s Sports Arena and send everyone home. West Seneca West’s star guard just wanted to make sure his ride home was a happy one.

Johnson scored six of his team’s seven points in the final overtime and the Indians scored an epic 97-95 win over Williamsville South in a game that had most folks walking out of the gym calling it the best game they’d ever seen.

“Man, I kept wondering, ‘Is this game ever going to end?’,” said Johnson, who scored a game-high 38 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with a minute left in the fourth OT. “But I knew it was going to end eventually and I wanted to be on top. We just knew we couldn’t lose this game. We had to do it for our community and give it all we had. And we did it.”

The win keeps West Seneca West’s undefeated season alive at 23-0. The Indians claimed the program’s first sectional title since 2000 and joined the Indians football and hockey teams as sectional champs this school year.

“This is a special time,” West coach Desmond Randall said. “Not just for us but football and hockey and now basketball. It’s a special time at our school and in our community. This is a win everybody can enjoy and now we just have to keep it going.”

West Seneca West will play for the overall Class A championship at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State against South Park, a 74-42 winner over Lake Shore in Saturday’s Class A title game.

After Saturday, West should be ready for anything.

The Billies held the lead for most of regulation, going up as much as nine in the third quarter, but West rallied for overtime. And another overtime and another and another.

“We just wanted to stick to the script,” Randall said. “We said coming in that this game was going to be 32 minutes of body blows. Who was going to outlast and win the heavyweight fight? This time it turned out to be a little more than 32 minutes but we were able to get the last body blow and get the knockout punch.”

The Billies had the ball with the game tied in the final seconds of regulation and each of the first three overtimes but couldn’t knock down the game-winner. Williamsville South started the fourth OT with two early buckets and led by three when the tide turned on one play. Billies star Greg Dolan was whistled for a charge with 1:36 left, his fifth and disqualifying foul.

“Once Greg fouled out, the momentum in the whole building just changed and you could sense that it was their time,’ South coach Gabe Michel said.

West had the advantage but still had to regain the lead. Johnson hit two free throws and then Alex Wayland came up with the defensive play of the game, hustling for a steal on the inbound pass. He dished to an open Johnson, who calmly drained the winner with 1:02 to play.

“I saw that I was going to be wide open,” Johnson said, ‘so I knew I was going to shoot even before I caught it. I knew I had to knock it down.”

Without Dolan, South mustered just one point the rest of the way. When the final buzzer sounded the West bench erupted in jubilation.

“It was special,” Randall said. “That’s definitely the best high school basketball game I’ve been a part of and everyone in this gym, it was probably the best high school game they’ve been a part of too. You can’t ask for any more out of a championship game out of a No. 1 and 2 seed. “

Wayland finished with 22 points for West. Mike Borton added 12 points, most notably the game-tying bucket with 15 seconds left in regulation that set up the madness. Nate Ryniec also scored 14 for the Indians.

Dolan finished with 36 points and topped 2,000 for his career with a third- quarter breakaway layup. Robert Richards scored 20 points and Mike DiGuilo 15 for the Billies (19-3).

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