For Olean, it was another step on a familiar journey. For East, it was a return to glory.
For Tuesday night’s Section VI Class B championship game, it will be a matchup between two teams stocked with size, speed, skill and confidence.
Johnathon Lewis scored 22 points, Jonathan Kinley added 19 and Tyree Tyson anchored the defensive effort as third-seeded East High defeated No. 4 seed Fredonia, 65-56, in Saturday’s Class B-2 final at SUNY Buffalo State.
In the B-1 title game, Sam Eckstrom scored 21 points while Wil Bathurst and Max Portlaw each tallied 19 to lead top-seeded Olean in an 82-68 triumph over No. 2 Lackawanna.
Olean, the state’s top-ranked Class B school, repeated as sectional champions while East won its second title in three years.
The Huskies and the Panthers will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday back at Buff State for the overall Class B championship.
Both teams continued to ride their big men on their playoff runs, but still found success when foul trouble forced them to play small.
Tyson, East’s 6-foot-9 center, scored just two points in the first half and 10 overall but his presence inside forced Fredonia to settle for mostly jump shots and concede the offensive rebounds.
“The defense and defensive rebounding,” keyed the victory, East coach Starling Bryant said. “We have the height and we have an advantage in that area, so if we boxed out, we had a great chance. …
“On offense, we were able to go inside out. Our big guy, they were doubling and tripling on him, so it kind of opened up the floor and our guards were able to get to the basket.”
When Tyson and the 6-5 Kinley were saddled with fouls, Lewis took over. The junior point guard scored 12 of his points in the third quarter, including seven straight that gave East a 42-30 lead and a three-point play at the end of the quarter to make it 49-32.
“I kind of depend on my big guys a lot so when they went out, I knew in my head that I had to attack the basket and play very hard defense,” Lewis said.
“He’s a very tenacious ballplayer,” Bryant said. “He has a lot of heart for his size. Sometimes he amazes me with some of the things he does. He’s a winner.”
John Piper led Fredonia with 15 points. Dylan Meyer scored 12 and Nick Johnston had 11.
Eckstrom, Olean’s 6-7 center, scored 15 of his points in the first half as the Huskies opened up a 42-34 lead.
When Eckstrom fouled out with 4:57 remaining, Bathurst stepped his game up. The 6-3 junior manned the middle on defense and powered the Olean offense from the perimeter, scoring eight points in the fourth and assisting on three straight scores that built the lead up to 73-57 with 3:36 left to play.
Bathurst flirted with a quadruple-double, adding 10 rebounds, nine assists and seven blocks to his line.
“Wil has been a go-to player all year. He’s made big plays all year and I just expect that out of him,” Olean coach Jeff Anastasia said.
“He can handle it, he can post up if we need him to, he can shoot the jumper and he can go to the basket. He’s a complete player at this point.”
Nick Schmidt made all four of his free throws down the stretch to finish with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds. Eckstrom blocked six shots.
Ahmad Abdo led Lackawanna with 18 points.