It seemed like the entire City of Lockport attended Monday night's Section Section VI Class AA boys basketball semifinal between our beloved Lions and Jamestown at Buffalo State College.
The only one who missed Gail Bentley's bus, however, was Lady Luck, and she was sorely missed.
Top-seeded Jamestown needed a miracle or two to beat head coach Dave Gilson's No. 5 Lions, trailing throughout most of Monday night's emotional and hard-fought contest, and they got more than a few in beating the Lions, 69-58.
On paper, a 22-8 fourth-quarter Jamestown run was the difference in a game that Lockport led most of the way, but a miracle bucket from his own free-throw line by Quinn Lee Yaw at the buzzer to end the first half and several three-pointers from Zack Panebianco off the backboard down the stretch and other minor miracles finally eliminated the Niagara Frontier League-co-champion Lions (14-4) from the playoffs.
The loss not only ended Lockport's outstanding season, it also overshadowed one of the greatest shooting performances in blue and gold history by gritty Lions senior Colin Dougherty.
Dougherty did everything but referee the game — like his dad used to — twisting and turning inside and burying bombs from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for a team-high 26 points. Dougherty drew oohs and ahhs from the large crowd throughout with great moves to the basket and a great touch on his outside and running jumpers, but it just wasn't enough.
Panebianco topped the Red Raiders (16-4) with 26 points. Lee Yaw added 21 in a solid 1-2 punch. Seniors Charlie Sobieraski, Ryan Lawrence, Moziah Townsend and Ryan Guyton ended their LHS basketball careers with 12, 9, 9 and 2 points, respectively.
Dougherty's second straight three-point basket and another tre by Sobieraski gave Lockport an early 11-6 lead. Dougherty, who finished with 18 first-half points, added another three late in the stanza, but Panebianco's tre with two ticks to go knotted the game at 15-15 after one.
Guyton drove neatly for two to give LHS a 19-17 lead early in the second — and it was a lead the Lions wouldn't relinquish until the fourth quarter. Two straight Dougherty jumpers from the outside, one from Three Point Land, upped the Lockport lead to 27-19. Moments later, Sobieraski's three made it 30-22 Lockport.
But the Red Raiders finished both halves strong and cut into Lockport's lead patiently, capping their late, first-half run with Lee Yaw's shot from Rochester that cut Lockport's lead to 32-31 at halftime.
Gilson's fired up team came out strong in the third with inside buckets by Lawrence and two more by Sobieraski and Townsend on an 8-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 9 points, 40-31. Buckets by Lee Yaw and Panebianco helped cut the LHS lead to 50-47 after three.
Panebianco's three-point play with 5:58 gave Jamestown it's first lead since the first half, 53-52. Townsend's great spin move underneath and bucket gave the Lions their final lead at 54-53.
Lee Yaw's jumper from the right side and a three by Matt Hoaglund opened the Jamestown lead up to six, 60-54, then moments later Panebianco hit his threes off the backboard and the Red Raiders coasted.
Jamestown will play No. 3 Clarence at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the AA title game. Clarence defeated 2-Williamsville North in Monday's other semifinal, 49-39.
GAME NOTES — Among those attending the game were Norm Palmer from Lockport WLVL Radio 1340 AM, LHS boys varsity soccer coach Jeff Hulshoff, Lockport athletics director Patrick M. Burke and former LHS basketball greats Anthony Ventura and Paul Pass.