Harry Wang is only in eighth grade, but a growth spurt over the summer helped take his tennis game to another level.
Dictating points with his forehand and winning some quick points off of his improved serve, Wang, playing for Williamsville North, defeated defending champion Mike Rusk, 6-1, 7-5, to win the ECIC boys tennis championship.
Rusk, a senior at Williamsville East, won the ECIC title last year before falling in the Section VI finals.
Tuesday at Sweet Home, Wang dominated the first set. The players then traded games, staying on serve until Wang broke Rusk at 5-6 to take the match.
“In the first set I think Mike missed some shots that he normally would make,” Williamsville North coach Mike Vendetti said. “The second set was tight and on serve and back and forth the whole time.
“Harry likes to dictate points with his forehand and I think he was able to keep Mike well behind the baseline, hitting with good depth really through the first set. … He grew a little bit from seventh grade and that has helped his serve. He’s able to get some free points that he wasn’t able to last year. That’s a big difference. It’s added a little more power to his game, especially on the serve.”
In the third-place singles match, East Aurora’s Jack McClaren defeated Williamsville South’s Joe Bartelo, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1.
The doubles championship went to the Orchard Park team of August Bruno and Tommy Baldinger, who defeated M.J. Bronsky and Mike Kessler (Williamsville North), 7-5, 6-0.
Lancaster’s Joe Preziuso pitched a complete-game four-hitter and shut out No. 1 large school Clarence, 3-0, in an ECIC I matchup.
“He gave up three hits in a row then settled down,” Lancaster coach Mark Dalfonso said. “He struck out the next kid then got a grounder back to him for a 1-2-3 double play. They didn’t score and that was big for us.”
The defense played well behind Preziuso while he worked all his pitches, striking out nine batters.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Dalfonso said. “He was mixing in fastballs with his change-ups and hitting his spots. He did everything we were asking of him. When they hit the ball, the infielders made plays. We didn’t have any errors.”
Lancaster went up 1-0 in the sixth on an RBI single by Ben Haefner. The Redskins added insurance runs in the seventh when Ryan Bonafede’s hit drove in two runs.
It was the first loss of the season for Clarence (17-1), which had wrapped up the No. 1 seed for the sectional playoffs.
In other ECIC I matchup, Orchard Park took an early 6-0 lead and held on for a 9-4 win over Williamsville North.
Tom LaCongo drove in three runs on three hits while Ryan MacCarrick added three hits for the Quakers.
“We’ve been scoring runs and we’ve been able to put a lot of runs up lately,” Orchard Park coach Jim Gibson said. “We’ve just got guys who can hit. The guys worked hard all winter at their hitting.”
Ryan Stefaniak had an RBI triple in the sixth inning to tie the game, then scored on an overthrow from the outfield to give St. Francis a 4-3 win over Cardinal O’Hara in Monsignor Martin action. It was the ninth straight win for St. Francis, which started the year 0-5.
In an ECIC III matchup, Dylan Webber had excellent command and a solid defense behind him to lead Pioneer to a 2-0 win over Lake Shore.
Webber pitched a complete game one-hitter with just two walks to pace the Panthers. He gave up a hit and a walk in the first inning, but the Pioneer defense turned a double play to end the threat. He walked the first batter in the second then retired the next 18.
“He’s pitched well all year and we’ve been a little all over the place defensively this year,” Pioneer coach David Buncy said. “The biggest thing he has going for him is the overhand curveball. When he has command of it, he’s tough. He’s pitching backwards, throwing curveballs in fastball counts.”
This year the Panthers are just 5-9 overall and 3-9 in league play. But knocking off Lake Shore, which slipped to 10-2 overall and 9-2 in the division, is a big confidence booster heading into the playoffs next week.
“I told the guys I was hoping this year wouldn’t end without them realizing their potential,” Buncy said. “We’ve lost a bunch of one-run games. I knew the potential was there and now we can get a little bit of confidence off this win. This is the caliber of team we’ll see in the first round and now they know they can compete.”
With quality play from its senior class, Williamsville South secured a home playoff game with a 14-9 win over West Seneca West in Class B. The win locks up the fourth seed in Class B, giving the Billies a home quarterfinal game.
“It was our last league game and our senior day and you always hope you get a good effort from the team,” Williamsville South coach Rick Hopkins said. “The seniors really stepped it up for the game. It was a good win for us. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to host a playoff game in the quarterfinals.”
Senior co-captains Alyssa Ferenczy (five goals) and Cassandra Hopkins (two goals, two assists) led the offense while senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Hughes made 14 saves.