Clyde-Savannah was the test, and Middle Early College had all the answers.
The Kats got double-digit scoring production from four players, and fended off the No. 1-ranked team in the state, 62-54, at Buffalo State to return to the state Class C semifinals in Glens Falls after a year’s absence.
“We like being the underdog,” said senior Tarron Scott, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. “People always think we’re going to lose, and it just motivates us to go and play hard.”
Everyone was motivated for Middle Early College to begin the game, running out to a 15-4 lead midway through the first, but Clyde-Savannah weathered the storm and closed out the quarter on an 11-2 run to trail only 17-15 at the end of the period.
Clyde-Savannah’s first quarter run would foreshadow what would occur the rest of the way: MEC having to answer Clyde-Savannah’s push to take the lead. Every time the Golden Eagles closed a seven or eight-point lead to just two or three, one of Devon Singleton’s seven blocks, two of Bri’an Brown’s 10 points, or one of Joseph Staton’s four threes kept the Section V champs at bay.
“We had to get out there and get on them early so we could get a good lead,” Brown said. “But as soon we got up, a couple of times, it went back and forth.”
The game almost turned in the third, when after trailing by as many as nine points, Joe Faniel completed a rare four-point play to give Clyde, the only undefeated team left in Class C, a 40-39 lead with 1:18 left in the quarter.
But on a team with nine seniors, it was Staton, the sophomore, who came right down to bury a three to give Middle Early College the lead for good.
“They just tell me to go out there and shoot,” the sophomore said. “Me knowing that I’m a great shooter and them knowing that I’m a great shooter, they give me the ability to go out there and shoot.”
“He’s a shooter,” Kats coach Randall Rich said of Staton, who finished with 15 points. “We tell him to shoot, he does it. The guys want him to do it, I want him to do it — when you make that many threes consistently, over and over and over, why not let him shoot it?”
Clyde-Savannah tied the game to start the third, but Scott scored eight straight points to pull Middle Early College away before Brown threw down a thunderous jam in traffic with 80 seconds left to seal the win.
“It was a really good motivational boost,” Brown said of the dunk.
With only four teams remaining in the state, Middle Early College won’t need any more motivation.
“We can’t worry about the rankings and things like that,” Brown said. “Everything changes on the court.”
Middle Early College plays Friends Academy (Section VIII) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday in the semis.