Less than a month ago, Williamsville North visited Clarence and left with a resounding 67-44 win in its ECIC I opener. Four days later, the Red Devils suffered a 17-point loss at Jamestown. However, since beginning 0-2 in ECIC I, Clarence has won four straight, evened its league record to 2-2, and got even with the Spartans in Williamsville before a packed gymnasium.
Ryan Funk sank one of his four 3-pointers from the corner with 53 seconds remaining in the game to break a 74-74 tie and Tanner Schmidt insured a Red Devils’ victory with a blocked shot, as Clarence won a thriller over Williamsville North, 77-76.
An exciting and closely contested fourth quarter saw 13 lead changes and three ties over the final 5:41. After a basket from Sterling Taplin put the Spartans up 71-69 with 3:03 to go, Bryan Jost answered from long distance to make it 72-71 Clarence. North freshman Maceo Jack then converted a traditional three-point play, putting his team back in front, 74-72.
Schmidt scored three tough buckets in the paint for Clarence in the final stanza, with the last one coming with 1:48 on the clock, knotting the score at 74 each. Nearly a minute later, Funk burried the game-winner from corner. The Spartans’ George Attea connected on a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 77-76 and Williamsville North did gain possesion in the final moments with a chance to score the go-ahead basket. However, as Taplin moved in towards the basket from the left side with under 10 seconds on the clock and released a floater, Schmidt was there to reject the shot and the ball was secured by Clarence. The Spartans had one last chance woth o.9 seconds on the clock, but were unable to get a clean full-court inbound for a desperation shot.
Clarence finished with five players in double figures, led by Bobby Florio’s 20 points. Jost scored 18, Funk netted 17, and Schmidt & Emaure Williams finished with 10 points each.
Taplin had a game-high 27 points in the loss, while Jack added 22 points for the Spartans.
(Chad Andrews is one of the top high school hoops bloggers in Western New York. Speaking of, Chad has a superb blog focused solely on high school hoops titled The View From CenterCourt. It’s a must-read for any fan of the sport. Check it out right here.)