PENN YAN — No. 3 Wayland-Cohocton Eagles pulled away in the second half of Thursday’s Section V, Class B2 semifinal to pick up a 63-54 win over No. 7 Mynderse in Penn Yan.
“We’ve been here for sectional games in Penn Yan for the last couple of years, but we have not done well here. So this was a big deal. There is always that amount of pressure, but all of a sudden things just gelled for us,” said Way-Co coach Mike Fields. “We played very smart basketball. I’m excited to go the big house, and I think this team really deserves it because of the way they’ve worked.”
With the win, the Golden Eagles now advance to the Class B2 championship game on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Blue Cross Arena, where the No. 1 Wellsville Lions await.
The teams traded buckets and leads in the early minutes of the game. Mynderse eventually held the early 6-4 advantage, but then Jamie Carman buried a transition three in order to give Way-Co the 7-6 lead halfway through the first.
The pace slowed down over the final four minutes of the frame, and each teams defense stepped up to make some big stops. But the Golden Eagles lead held steady at 11-10 after the first.
Wayland-Cohocton’s stellar defense carried over into the second frame. Way-Co did not allow a single point to be scored for over four minutes. And on the other end, Connor Englert has seven straight points and the Eagles ripped off a 10-0 run that forced a Mynderse timeout with 3:30 left in the half.
Mynderse ended the scoreless run, but Way-Co remained in complete control of the contest.
The Golden Eagles were dominant on defense, and had no problem slicing through the defense on the other end for easy looks at the hoop. As a result, Wayland-Cohocton took a commanding 29-15 lead into the intermission.
Mynderse, however, came out of the break like a team that was not prepared to have its season ended. The Blue Devils picked up the speed and intensity on both ends of the floor, and quickly cut the lead down to single digits.
But Way-Co’s offense was simply relentless, and the Golden Eagles shooting kept the Blue Devils at bay with a 41-32 lead halfway through the third.
Both offenses continued to play well over the final minutes of the third quarter. Mynderse had a few chances to cut into the lead, but Wayland-Cohocton was simply too strong on the offensive end as it held a 48-37 going into the final frame.
“Darren Miller was a handful and we knew he was going to be. We knew he was going to get at least 20 points, so we wanted to keep pressure on the perimeter so that it was a hard entry pass and to slow down some of their great shooters. That’s what we focused on tonight,” said Fields. “We got into foul trouble in the third, and then Derek Cheasman came off of the bench and makes back-to-back threes when they were making a run. So it really was one of those games where everyone contributed.”
The Eagles offense continued to dominate in the opening part of the fourth quarter. Way-Co was relentless in driving the basketball to the hoop, where they routinely found either a kick out for three, or a drop pass to a post player for an easy layup.
As a result, the Golden Eagles grew the lead to as big as 56-39 with just four minutes left to play.
From there, Wayland-Cohocton slowed the pace down as much as possible and simply tried to play smart in the defensive end without fouling.
Mynderse was able to cut slightly into the lead in the final minutes, but the Way-Co lead was insurmountable.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the No. 3 Golden Eagles has earned a 63-54 win and a spot in the Section V Class B2 Championship.
The Golden Eagles had four different players reach double figures. Connor Englert led the way with 15 points while Cameron Huber added 14 points. DeAndre Green contributed 12 points while Jamie Carman finished with 11.
“To have four different players reach double figures tonight was great. Everyone contributed, and that was big. This team has matured so much since day one where we struggled by losing our first six out of seven. But now we’ve won 10 of our last 12, and its been a gradual build up.”