ROCHESTER — Section VI champion Sherman is an excellent young basketball team.
Section V champion UPrep is even better – and even younger.
The University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, a first-year varsity team with sophomores as it eldest players, used excellent defense and three-point shooting to beat Sherman, a team with just one senior, 71-55, in Saturday afternoon’s Class D Far West Regional.
An estimated 1,200 at Blue Cross Arena watched the precocious Griffins shrug off Sherman’s 12-1 start by causing 22 turnovers and going 9 for 22 from three-point range, with many of them well beyond the high-school arc.
“They knocked down shots,” said Sherman coach Cory Emory. “For being young guys, they can really play.”
The Griffins (19-3) advanced to the state final four in Glens Falls, where they will meet Section I (Westchester County) champion Martin Luther King Jr. in Friday’s semifinals.
UPrep, a third-year charter school, has a team comprised of sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders. Sophomore Jordan Marshall led UPrep with 20 points. Sophomore Cameron Myles had two threes in a well-rounded, 13-point, 10-rebound, four-block performance.
Brandon Hunt, a 5-foot-4, 115-pound freshman, hit three three-pointers from near NBA-range, and scored 10 points.
Marique Simkin, a 15-year-old eighth-grader who earned sectional MVP honors for the Griffins, was limited to six points and was hampered by foul trouble, but even with three fouls he showed wisdom beyond his years by forcing several of his five steals to help UPrep distance itself in the second half.
The Griffins quickly bounced back from Sherman’s quick lead, drawing to within 18-16 at the end of the first. UPrep took a 32-28 lead at the half and stretched it to 53-42 after three.
“We were executing well early, and we were still getting some easy shots, and that makes you want to rev up and want to play a little bit faster, which started to fit into their mold a little bit better,” said Emory.
Sherman (16-6) has just one senior on its roster. It started juniors Andrew Graham (17 points on 8-of-16 shooting), Devin Moorhead (four points, four assists), Ryan Myers (seven points, two steals), Ryan Robson (four points, seven rebounds, two steals) and sophomore Jake Card (eight points, 10 rebounds).
The Wildcats also got a great game from sophomore Nathan Ottaway (10 points, eight rebounds).
“I think at the beginning of the year, they didn’t understand how good they could be; didn’t understand that we could make it here,” said Emory. “They thought we were a two-year project. Then all of a sudden we’re here. They gave it all they had.”