JAMESTOWN — Tyler Hind had already put together a second quarter to remember, a masterful display to help his team wrestle control of the Section 6 Class C-2 championship game. Then he brought the house down.
Randolph’s junior basketball star scored his team’s last 18 points of the first half Friday night against Bennett at Jamestown Community College on a layup, four free throws and four three-pointers, the last one a desperate heave from half-court at the end of the second quarter. He caught a rebound, took three dribbles toward mid-court and tossed up a prayer, like many any other players try at the end of a quarter, but usually don’t come close.
But this one found nothing but net. It was that kind of quarter, and that kind of night, for Hind and the Cardinals, who entered the locker room at halftime up 31-14 and never let Bennett within single digits in the second half of a 78-46 championship victory.
Hind said he doesn’t practice shots like the one he made at the end of the half. The Cardinals sometimes hold half-court competitions, "but nothing like that," he said.
"That's just a prayer," he said. "Everyone throws up prayers at the end of the half, end of the quarter and you don't ever expect it to go in. When it does, it takes you by surprise. It almost takes the wind out of you.”
The win marked Randolph’s second sectional title in three years, third since 2014 and seventh since 1994.
Hind finished with 38 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals. He was 11-for-19 from the field, 5-for-9 from three and 11-for-15 from the free-throw line.
"It's definitely up there," Hind said of his best games. "It's one of my best, especially that quarter. I was feeling it and it was just great, especially in front of all these people, a big crowd in a sectional final game. To be able to go out and do that is a dream come true."
Hind’s second-quarter eruption made the Cardinals forget about a slow start, when they had just four points through the first five minutes.
"He got going, he had some rhythm in his game, he had a good look in his eye," said Kevin Hind, the Cardinals' coach and Tyler's father. "We talk about body language constantly and just things start to go wrong and he's just done a great job. He doesn't show if he gets frustrated, we've been talking since he was five on 'Don't let them see you frustrated, just worry about the next shot,' and he did. He kept focused and he started hitting those. I told him to play aggressive. We want to play aggressive, you've got a little space, take the shot. Tonight it looked good. It was a good night."
The junior has also worked physically to become strong enough to carry such a workload, like the remarkable 18 straight points he scored Friday.
"They were playing a lot of guys on me too, and last year, being smaller and weaker it was a lot harder to be able to do stuff like that," he said. "And I have guys looking for me and setting screens for me all the time, and just being able to call for a screen and just get open like that, it makes it a lot easier."
Freshman center Gabe McCoy chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds, while junior guard Kaleb Steward had 13 points and five boards. Both McCoy and Steward scored nine points in the third quarter, as Randolph (18-5) pulled away to a 53-31 lead.
"Behind (Tyler) we had guys just playing really hard," Kevin Hind said. "Gabe did not play well in the first half, I had to take Gabe out two minutes, three minutes into the game, I'm taking him out. Actually that happened two or three times. He finally responded, finally got going a little bit. You look at the stat sheet and Kaleb Steward played one of his best games all the way around."
For No. 5 Bennett (8-11), Davon Scott scored 17 points and Lamont Pulliam had 13.
Randolph will play Middle College on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Buffalo State College for the Class C finals. The Cardinals effectively made it this far last year, when Section 6 did not hold sub-section (C-1 and C-2) tournaments, falling to Tapestry in the C finals.
"We've been here many times, I don't even know, a lot, the last seven, eight nine years," Kevin Hind said. "I know we've been in this position to play Middle College or Tapestry, it's got to be seven out of eight, six out of eight or seven out of nine. We're just looking for one. We had a good lead at halftime, we got big guys in foul trouble a year ago.
"We kind of let one slip away, and from the first day of practice, we put that film on, last year's Tapestry game in front of this crowd and the excitement, we've talked about it daily. It's the game we've been waiting for and hoping for that we could get to and just kind of see what we can do."
Grimes 2 0-0 4, Skillon 2 0-0 4, Robinson 2 0-0 4, Brown 1 0-1 2, Pulliam 4 4-5 13, Scott 7 0-0 17, Rosa 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 4-6 46.
Steward 5 1-5 13, T. Hind 11 11-16, 38, Bosley 1 0-0 3, McCoy 5 4-6 14, Bernard 3 2-2 8, Bushey 3 2-2 8, Shields 0 2-2 2. Totals: 25 20-31 78.
Bennett 8 14 31 46
Randolph 11 31 53 78
Three-point goals: Bennett 4 (Pulliam, Scott 3), Randolph 8 (Steward 2, T. Hind 5, Bosley). Total fouls: Bennett 18, Randolph 11. Fouled out: Robinson (B).