CALEDONIA — Wayland-Cohocton coach Al Best claimed his illustrious and unprecedented 500th victory in the girls basketball realm as the Lady Eagles played stellar defense and nailed clutch shots down the stretch in a 36-32 road win over Cal-Mum on Friday.
Best noted that the night before in practice one of the girls said they wanted to do something for his 500th victory. Best answered, "Ah, 500 is only a number, we have to remain focused on what we have to do on the floor against this tough opponent."
Another girl piped up and added, "Yes, we really want to be part of that win and that accomplishment."
"Now, you know that really made me think," Best said. "I can really understand that. It really makes me reminisce back to my first win over Hilton as coach of Greece Arcadia. Matter of fact it makes me think deeply about all of the great players and people who were part of every one of these wins, including these girls and these people too. It's all part of the journey. They've all been part of helping me figure out what kind of occupation I'd have to make a living."
The game was more of a defensive battle than anything else. Cal-Mum led 9-7 after one and 20-17 at the half.
Best observed, "This has been our M.O. all year. We've struggled early and then somehow, someway, we find ourselves and step up at the right time to get the job done. That happened again tonight."
The Golden Eagles reversed roles in the third, outscoring their hosts 8-4 to go up 25-24 heading into the final period of action.
Alex Button scored all eight of the Eagles' third period points to keep it close.
Coach Best added, "They had a chance to put us away in the first half, but they made some mistakes that we capitalized on. Here in the fourth we got up by five had that same chance. We made some mistakes and they turned it into a two-point game down the stretch."
Button iced the game with a couple of free throws late. But Best raved about Maggie McAllister's defense.
"She was really a huge defensive key for us tonight," he said. "I don't know how many tipped balls, deflections, and steals she came up with, but she was on the floor and all over the place causing havoc with their game plan. She made two huge free throws in the fourth quarter too. Sometimes it's the intangibles that win games for you. Her play was a big part of it. She was kinda like Reggie Jackson used to say — she was the straw that stirred our defense."
Wayland-Cohocton (4-1) was led offensively by Alex Button's 20 points, as she scored 13 of them in the pivotal second half. Mackenzie Johnson and Kadeynn McInnis each scored six.
Delaney Brehm added two and some tough defense down low late in the game as well. Leah Langerman and Maggie McAllister each had two points.
Wayland-Cohocton visits Keshequa Wednesday.