Stoddard, Heschke spark Rydza's Rams into B-2 quarterfinals
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
The only thing odd about Wednesday night’s Royalton-Hartland boys basketball Class B-2 pre-quarterfinal win over Southwestern was that NASA reported something strange on their radar screens hovering over Middleport at about 8:30 p.m.
Everyone inside the Roy-Hart gymnasium knew exactly what that something was — Rams’ forward Alex Stoddard, whose thundering, monster slam dunk from the rafters was the fitting exclamation point in No. 5 Roy-Hart’s 79-71 overtime victory over the No. 12 Trojans.
That means that Rams head coach Mark Rydza’s retirement party is on hold as his 10-9 team advances to take on No. 4 Health Sciences of Buffalo at 7 p.m. Friday in a B-2 quarterfinal.
Stoddard was spectacular throughout, but especially down the stretch after the visitors overcame a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game at 62-62 and send it to OT.
“Alex has been our guy all year and he’ll most likely be a First Team all-leaguer,” Rydza said. “He does everything for us, blocks shots, scores, rebounds. Sometimes he gets a little too anxious and tries to do a little too much, but he’s the nucleus of our team.”
Stoddard’s game high 32 points included 9 in the extra session, capped, with 10 seconds left, by his high-flying, right-handed slam dunk that brought the house down.
“We were up and there wasn’t a lot of clock left, so I just went for it,” said Stoddard, who added 9 rebounds and 6 blocks for the Rams. He averages almost 19 points per game to lead his team.
“It was a big win for us because you lose and you go home,” Stoddard said. “Now we get to play Friday and if we win there, we go to Buff State. But we need to play better. We can play a lot better than that.”
Austin Heschke added a career high 22 points for Roy-Hart in the Land of the Giants, including 7 tough inside points in the fourth quarter.
“It was exiting, but Alex led the team today,” Heschke said. “I scored a lot of points because they didn’t have anyone as big as I am. They couldn’t body me out. We’re going to need to step it up on the defensive end if we want to win our next game — box out better and rebound better.”
DaRon Woods added 10 and Andy Xapsos 9 off the bench for the Rams.
Ben Burk topped head coach Andrew Krenzer’s Trojans (7-13) with 15 points. Andrew Bell added 14 and Mike Sandbloom chipped in with 12.
“I felt like we just got a little tired towards the end,” Krenzer said. “That Stoddard’s a heck of a ball player. It’s hard to find him on the court. He can be anywhere.”
Rydza said he needs a better effort from his team Friday if they hope to advance to the B-2 semifinals.
“Early in the fourth, we didn’t play very smart basketball and made a few bad passes — took a few shots that maybe we shouldn’t have taken so early in the shot clock — and let them back. They picked up a little momentum off some fundamentality poor things that we did, but we hung in there and had a nice overtime.”
GAME NOTES — Among those attending the game were Roy-Hart athletics director John Jablonski, Lady Rams girls basketball coach Don Baker and Middleport Police Chief John Swick.
Class B-2 pre-quarterfinals
9-Wilson 47, 8-Emerson 44
BUFFALO — It’s not unusual for the Section VI playoffs to bring out the best in the most unlikely of candidates.
Wilson boys basketball was the beneficiary of the latest example Wednesday night when junior guard Evan Shank went off for 18 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to put No. 9 Wilson (6-13) ahead by one point with 1:09 to play, helping the Lakemen overcome No. 8 Emerson, 47-44, in a Class B-2 pre-quaterfinal matchup at Hutch Tech High School.
Shank and usual suspect Kyle Bradley, who recorded a game-high 22 points, combined to score 40 of Wilson’s 47 points.
Shank finished with four 3-pointers. Bradley also had eight rebounds. Four Lakemen in all reached the scoresheet.
“That wasn’t exactly by design, but it worked out nonetheless,” Wilson head coach Brett Sippel said. “Those two obviously took good shots all night long. They were all over the place.”
The Lakemen held a lead for much of the game before Emerson rallied to create a five-point cushion with 2:12 to play. Joe Littere’s only field goal in the game, a 3-pointer, cut the lead to two points at 1:46 before Shank’s 3-pointer reclaimed the lead with just over a minute remaining.
Emerson (4-10) failed to capitalize on its last two possessions as the game’s final 18 seconds ticked off the clock.
Wilson will meet top-seeded East High School in the quarterfinals with tipoff set for 8 p.m. Friday at International Prep.
Class AA Prequarterfinals
6-Lancaster 65, 11-Nia.-Wheatfield 41
LANCASTER — Denzel Fuller scored a game-high 17 points to go with 10 rebounds but nine different Redskins found the scoresheet as they put an end to the Falcons’ (2-17) season in the Class AA pre-quarterfinal matchup.
Class A-1 Prequarterfinals
7-Hamburg 62, 10-Starpoint 53
HAMBURG — Ben Walters led all Spartan scorers with 16 points.
Also for Starpoint, Christian Nodine scored 13 and Ian Emerick and Brock Kroening chipped in nine points apiece.