Thanks to a tremendous first quarter and a tremendous performance by senior Zach Panebianco, Jamestown is headed back to Glens Falls.
The Red Raiders started the game with a 20-5 first quarter, and Panebianco pretty much took it from there.
The 5-foot-10 junior scored 34 points and seemingly hit three-pointers whenever Jamestown needed then in the second half as the Red Raiders beat Section V (Rochester area) champion Greece-Athena, 61-52, in the Class AA Far West Regionals Saturday night.
Panebianco was 10 of 20 from the field, hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers (including a 4-for-4 performance in the second half) and was a perfect 10 of 10 at the foul line.
“The kid is unreal,” said Jamestown coach Ben Drake. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s ice. He lives for the big moments.”
An estimated 1,500 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena watched the Red Raiders, ranked 14th in the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll, avenge a season-opening, 20-point loss at home (Dec. 13) to No. 6 Greece-Athena (21-2).
Jamestown, Section VI champions four of the last five years, heads to Glens Falls for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four for the second time in school history. It is its second trip in four years (2011).
“Glens Falls is every team’s dream,” Drake said. “This is one of my favorite teams to coach – great kids and so coachable, and for the second straight week, they performed the game plan to perfection. They played great.”
Jamestown (18-4) will play in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday against Section IV (Binghamton area) champion Union-Endicott, which stunned basketball followers state-wide with a 69-66 overtime win Saturday over perennial state power and Section I (Westchester County) champion Mount Vernon.
Jamestown bolted to its early lead behind Panebianco and senior Quinn Lee Yaw (eight of his 10 points in the first half). Athena outscored Jamestown in each of the three remaining quarters, but the Red Raiders sustained leads of 34-22 at halftime and 48-38 after three.
The closest the Trojans got – 36-31 with 5:20 left in the third. That’s when Panebianco hit his first three to push the lead to eight. His trey with four secods left gave Jamestown a 10-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
“He played the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Lee Yaw said of Panebianco. “Glens Falls is a dream come true.”