It’s a difficult job to stay positive and focused when the hard work isn’t showing up in the win column.
But Randy Rakowski did his best to keep his Bennett team on task. And the results paid off Wednesday night as his No. 13 Tigers upset fifth-seeded Newfane, 45-39, in a Section VI Class B-1 prequarterfinal boys basketball matchup.
Newfane led by three points heading into the final quarter, but Bennett’s solid defense led to a 14-5 run to earn just the Tigers’ fifth win of the season.
“I almost had a whole new team this season and we play in one of the toughest divisions,” Rakowski said. “In Yale Cup I we play tough teams every game. I tried to keep them motivated, telling them they’d make some noise in the playoffs and they played their hearts out tonight.
“No one likes losing, but the key was to keep them motivated and on task. They were working hard in practice, going over fundamentals and seeing mistakes they made. Games are won in practice and it paid off.”
Tyshawn Prude scored 16 points for Bennett and Eric Thompson added 11. Bennett plays at No. 4 Maryvale on Friday.
Meanwhile, Ballah Burch hit a 15-foot jumper with 3.2 seconds left in the second overtime to give No. 8 Olmsted a 56-54 win over No. 9 I-Prep/Grover Cleveland in a Class C-2 prequarterfinal.
“We had the last shot in the fourth quarter, the last shot in the first overtime and finally got the last shot to go in the second overtime,” Olmsted coach Rich Skirabusha said. “It was back and forth the entire way. Both teams were working hard on defense and we were lucky to pull it out.”
Burch finished with 15 points while Malcolm Hendrick added 12. Freshman Brandon Roach scored 13, taking over many duties as Olmsted’s senior captain, Jalen Schumaker, was sidelined with an injury.
“Brandon started on JV all year and was called up with about five games to go,” Skirabusha said. “He played a gem of a game. He played smart, under control and really led the team.”
Olmsted (9-10) plays at top-seeded Silver Creek on Friday.
James Miller had 12 rebounds, but none more important than the one he grabbed with two seconds left in regulation. City Honors missed a free throw, on purpose, and Miller grabbed the rebound, kicked it out to Jordahn Summers who drained a three-pointer at the buzzer. That sent the game with Emerson into overtime and City Honors held on in the extra session for a 63-62 win in a B-2 prequarterfinal.
Miller finished with a double-double, adding 10 points, while Summers netted 14 with six steals and six assists.
Lenny Dowell scored 25 points for Emerson while Jason Dowell had seven.
The Centaurs (6-13) face No. 1 CSAT on Friday.
In another B-1 prequarterfinal, Alden was able to handle second-half pressure and Dylan Dusault was a solid presence inside as the No. 11 Bulldogs upset No. 4 Lafayette, 59-51.
Dusault scored 25 points and had 17 rebounds, getting the bulk of his points off the offensive glass.
Alden (9-11) advanced to play No. 3 East Aurora in the quarterfinals on Friday.