ROCHESTER – Tim McCulley entered Saturday night’s Class D1 championship game with top billing, and the senior didn’t disappoint, swishing shots from all angles on his way to scoring all 11 of No. 1-seeded Notre Dame-Batavia’s points in the first quarter.
No. 2 Jasper-Troupsburg more than matched the Irish’s 1,000-point scorer early on, building an 18-11 lead after the first quarter.
Then Jason Hart came off the bench and stole the show.
Hart hit three straight triples to re-ignite the Notre Dame-Batavia offense early in the second quarter, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting from deep to help push the Irish to a 62-37 win over the Wildcats.
"After he hit a couple, that shouldn’t happen again because he’s not a kid that’s going to blow by you on the dribble," said J-T head coach Tom Price. "You move him off the arc. They have a lot of talent. It takes so much help on McCulley that people are going to get some shots. He shouldn’t have got that many open shots."
The Wildcats (18-4) led 20-11 when Hart connected on his first three. The senior’s fourth triple of the quarter tied the game at 26, part of a 13-4 Irish run to close the half.
Hart and Alec Covel opened the second half with back-to-back triples to push Notre Dame-Batavia’s lead to 10 as the Irish took control with a 20-6 third quarter.
McCulley finished with 24 points, nine boards, four steals and four assists. Tyler VanSkiver hounded the tournament MVP into difficult shots for most of the night, but McCulley still managed to shoot 11-of-19.
"He was hitting tough shots," Price said. "He was well-guarded hitting tough shots, but he’s really good. They’re a tough team to play. They always have a lot of good players."
The Wildcats had everything working early, particularly from long range. Bryan Guild hit three triples in the first frame, and back-to-back threes from Guild and Dylan Price gave J-T the 18-11 lead after one.
The Wildcats went ice cold in the second half, however, hitting just three field goals over the final 16 minutes. Notre Dame-Batavia had a 32-11 advantage in the second half to blow the game wide open.
"We got a lot of open shots," said Coach Price. "In the first quarter we knocked them down. Even at halftime we were pretty close to 50 percent. I thought we got a little tentative, and then we shot 10 percent in the second half. You’re not going to beat anybody like that, especially not a good team.
"I think they got a little discouraged," Price added. "The lead ballooned pretty quickly. They didn’t miss very miss much in the third quarter. McCulley hit some shots. They’ve got so much talent, you can’t make a mistake."
Covel added 11 points for Notre Dame-Batavia (19-3), which will take on D2 champion Houghton Academy Tuesday in Letchworth for a berth in the Far West Regional.
Guild finished with 11 points and Dalton Cady had 10 for the Wildcats. Dylan Price added nine.
Jasper-Troupsburg graduates a large group of seniors that have returned the program to prominence in Steuben County and Section V. The Wildcats will lose Price, VanSkiver, Cady, Guild, Justin Aldrich and Abdullah Alshanbari.
"These seniors have done so much for us," said Coach Price. "Dylan and Bone are four-year starters. They came along and the program was down a little bit, numbers were down. They’ve had a lot of success.
"I wish it could have been capped off with a championship, but they’ve done a lot for the program. They’ve represented the program well. I’m just a little disappointed for them. They’re a great bunch of kids."
Wyatt Hayes is the lone returning J-T starter.
"We’re losing a lot," Price said. "We don’t have very many points coming back. Wyatt started all year. He’s going to have to be a leader next year. A lot of the JV kids are going to have to be ready to play, along with the kids we had on the bench. We have a summer to get ready. It’s going to take a lot of work, because we’re losing a lot."
Game note: Tom Price was the Section V, Class D1 Coach of the Year … The All-Tournament team consisted of McCulley (MVP), Hart, Covel, Dylan Price, Cady, Kyle Redman (Fillmore) and Jordan Schuck (Hammondsport) … Hayes and B-ND’s Charlie Herbert earned Sportsmanship Awards.
No. 2 Jasper-Troupsburg 18 8 6 5 – 37
No. 1 Notre Dame-Batavia 11 19 20 12 – 62
JASPER-TROUPSBURG: Dylan Price 3 1-2 9, Tyler VanSkiver 1 0-0 2, Dalton Cady 3 4-4 10, Bryan Guild 4 0-0 11, Wyatt Hayes 0 0-0 0, Dalton Earl 0 0-0 0, Justin Aldrich 0 0-0 0, Zach Hadley 1 0-0 3, Justin Button 0 0-0 0, Collin Wyant 1 0-0 2, Bill Knopf 0 0-0 0, Josh Price 0 0-0 0, Colin Cornish 0 0-0 0, Abdullah Alshanbari 0 0-0 0.
NOTRE DAME-BATAVIA: Josh Johnson 1 0-0 2, Alec Covel 4 0-0 11, Alex Domkowski 1 0-0 2, Caleb Nellis 3 0-0 6, Tim McCulley 11 1-1 24, Jason Hart 5 0-0 15, Jarrod Wall 0 0-0 0, Cal Tygart 0 0-0 0, Dylan Fix 0 0-0 0, Louis Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Nick DiFilippo 0 0-0 0, Charlie Herbert 1 0-0 2.
3-point goals: J-T 6 (Price 2, Guild 3, Hadley); ND-B 9 (Covel 3, McCulley, Hart 5). Fouled out: None.