Zak Ciezki couldn’t hit a shot like that again if he tried.
His Cheektowaga Warriors trailed Amherst by two points in the final seconds of overtime when he took an inbounds pass, dribbled right and put up an off-balance three-pointer that hit the back of the rim near the glass, took a strange, flat bounce and fell through the hoop.
Amherst couldn’t respond at the buzzer and Cheektowaga won the Section VI Class A-2 boys basketball championship Saturday at Buffalo State, 69-68.
“It looked a little long when it was coming in, but someone was watching over us and it sat down and dropped,” Cheektowaga coach Patrick Cullinan said. “It was awesome.”
“It almost looked like it froze there for a second and then just fell,” Amherst coach Chris Kensy said. “The ball couldn’t even decide which way it was going to go.”
Ciezki said the shot didn’t feel great leaving his hand.
“That was a crazy shot. I still don’t know how it went in,” he said. “Every team gets lucky bounces during the game, during the season, and our lucky bounces came at a great time for us.”
Ciezki finished with 19 points, including four three-pointers. Teammate Preston Summers also had 19 and Dominick Welch added 17.
Cheektowaga (16-5) will play Class A-1 champion McKinley (15-6) for the overall Class A title at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State.
The Warriors had never won a boys basketball title before.
“We preached from Day 1 when we walked in this year, I said to these guys, let’s take a look at that banner on the wall,” Cullinan said. “If you look up there, there’s not one number under where it says sectional champions. And I said, you know what, why don’t we be the first one? Why don’t we make history at Cheektowaga? It’s been a long season, it’s been a great ride with these kids, and it was a heck of a win.”
Cheektowaga had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. The Warriors drew up a good play and looked to have an open layup but Amherst’s Darien Lowe came over to disrupt the shot and force overtime.
Amherst led, 18-7, after the first quarter and pushed the lead to as many as 14 at 26-12. But Cheektowaga roared back, closing the first half on a 17-2 run to lead 29-28 at halftime thanks to a Patrick Plummer three-pointer at the horn.
“We kept fighting, fighting, fighting,” Cullinan said. “There was never a doubt. We just kept going and guys made plays. That’s what it comes down to, guys just making plays.”
T.C. Brown helped Amherst get out to its early lead and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. He was productive early and late while Jordan Nwora came on strong for a game-high 24 points. Lowe added 17 points.