BUFFALO NEWS March 3, 2002


Tigers blast Grand Island to repeat as A-2 sectional champ

News Sports Reporter

Grand Island was able to knock off one of the Yale Cup's best this postseason. Doing it in two straight games proved to be way too much to ask.

T.J. Adams scored 27 points as a balanced and overbearing Bennett team blew out the Vikings, 91-46, to win its second straight Section VI Class A-2 championship before an estimated crowd of 1,500 Saturday in Buffalo State Sports Arena.

The fourth-seeded Vikings knocked off top-seeded McKinley in Wednesday's semifinals to prevent what many thought would be a showdown between Buffalo Public Schools teams in the final.

"We were shocked - our eyebrows were up in the air," senior Aaron Hayes said of second-seeded Bennett's reaction to Grand Island's defeat of McKinley. "But then we concentrated on (semifinal opponent) Lake Shore first and right after that we just practiced hard for Grand Island."

In a rematch of last year's overall Class A final, Bennett (19-4) will take on A-1 champion Niagara Falls (23-0) at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo State.

"I've been looking forward to this ever since we lost to them (last year) - this is where we wanted to be," said Adams. "It didn't matter (if Bennett played McKinley or Grand Island). It was a big surprise. I guess McKinley slept on them - they took them lightly. We saw that and we just took it from there."

Sophomore Mike Feathers led Grand Island (13-10) with 19 points. Brian Brown and Jon Steele, Grand Island's senior leaders, were limited to 11 and six points, respectively.

Grand Island never got into a flow like it did against McKinley, when it used sharp shooting to take a lead it would hold for the entire game. Seven Tigers scored in the first quarter, as Bennett fast-breaked and rebounded its way to leads of 12-3 and 20-5 before taking a 28-13 lead after one quarter.

"What I told the kids was, "Hey, they're in the same boat we were last year. We came in as the seventh seed and won this thing,' " said Bennett coach Bob Kurtz. "We came out and played hard and we played just the way we expected."

Antwon Johnson had 16 points and Jeremy Richardson scored 13, Hayes had nine and Darnell Kimble eight for Bennett, which led, 48-21, at halftime. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Bennett's advantage grew to 30 (53-23) and the Tigers were ahead, 73-34, entering the final quarter.