Frank Speziale Photo
SYRACUSE – The powerful and always dangerous Westhill Warriors hailing from Syracuse have punched their ticket to yet another final-four appearance in the New York State boys basketball state playoffs – following their 73-54 dismantling of the Norwich Purple Tornado.
“We came up short last year, so we have some unfinished business to finish up. We're going to work hard this week and get ready to play next weekend,” said Westhill junior Sean Dadey. “Last season was tough, we had some injuries so we came up short. But this year's team is special and anybody is capable of having a big game so that is why we are going to go far.”
And that is exactly what the Warriors did in the quarterfinals of the NYS Class B playoffs on Saturday, March 11, when Norwich came to town – spread the ball around while playing solid defense. Through this process Westhill managed to have five players hit double-digit figures in scoring for the game – with Dadey leading the way at 16 points.
“Four or five guys today were in double figures so we are really more of an unselfish team that anybody is capable of scoring in the high numbers, so it's special,” said Dadey following his team leading performance in the win.
In the execution of the game plans from both squads, Norwich senior Chris Jeffrey – Norwich's leading scorer in their past few games through the Section IV Class B tournament – was limited to a mere nine points in the loss to Westhill.
“We played them exactly how we wanted in the first half. We wanted to keep them out of transition and make them make contested shots. Unfortunately they made those contested shots at a very high rate,” said Norwich head coach Brian Collier. “Thus we played closer and they got us with backdoor cuts, so it became a pick your poison. Offensively we scored early with good execution, but they picked up their physicality on our drives and in the post and we had a hard time adjusting.”
With tip-off underway at 1 p.m. this past Saturday, all was laid out on the line for the two hopeful state playoff teams – Norwich (Section IV champs ranked 24th in the state at 17-5) and Westhill (Section III champs ranked 2nd in the state at 22-1).
Much like Collier attested, Norwich came out blazing in the first period – grabbing their first lead of the night when Norwich senior Tre Bonham dropped his first of two three-pointers :34 seconds into the game to take the 3-2 lead. Fellow senior – Jeffrey – looked to find the scorebook early when he added two more points for the Tornado with 7:03 left in the first period – extending the Norwich lead to 5-2.