SALAMANCA — The Salamanca boys basketball team finished its regular season with a second consecutive victory, celebrating its seniors on the way to a 73-49 triumph over Cassadaga Valley on Thursday.
Coach Adam Bennett started his four seniors, Tyler Hedlund, Ira John, Zach Helms and Hunter McAuley, along with junior Aaron George, who led the team with 23 points.
“I just think that we owe it to them,” Bennett said of the tradition to start his seniors. “They work so hard. It's something that I brought over from Olean that Jeff (Anastasia) and Don Scholla did. It works for us every year. I tell our guys, 'They've earned that. They make our team better and they may not get all the accolades on the floor and you may not see their names in the box score but they make our team better every day.' So I thought they earned it and I thought they did a good job out there. They certainly, offensively, we did pretty well with that group out there and then when our guys came in we kind of locked it down defensively.”
Center Jarod White chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds, while Lucas McKenna, another sophomore, dished out seven assists. McAuley added five rebounds and Helms hit a pair of three-pointers for six points.
It was White’s second consecutive double-figure scoring game, after he posted a double-double of 17 and 13 boards in an overtime win against Franklinville on Monday.
“He's working really hard,” Bennett said. “He's a great kid. He's got a wonderful work ethic. He genuinely wants to get better and he and I are working a lot on post-up in practice every day and it's starting to translate. He's got great hands, his feet are starting to catch up to varsity speed a little bit and he's getting after it on the boards. So the sky is the limit for Jarod. He's got the size that you want at this level and the work ethic too. So we're excited about what's to come.”
Connor Crabtree led Cassadaga Valley (7-12) with 23 points.
Salamanca started its season 7-1 through the first non-league game of the year in early January, but endured a 3-7 stretch since then before this week and finished 4-6 and in fourth place in the CCAA East I division.
Now the Warriors enter the postseason on a two-game win streak, after some losses Bennett still saw progress in against the league’s top teams of Allegany-Limestone, Randolph and Silver Creek.
“We play in a really tough class,” Bennett said. “We've got a lot of good teams and that's why I'm happy that we play in a strong league, because we're just going to see that stuff in the playoffs. I think really, regardless of wins and losses, I think over the last three or four weeks we've been playing very well. I thought we played Randolph really hard at their place. I thought the second part of the league season, we were playing those teams well and we're doing a good job in practice too, so anything can happen. We know what happened last year. We've just got to make sure that we execute in the playoffs.”
Bennett expected the Warriors to have a road first-round playoff game on Friday, Feb. 22. Chautauqua Lake's victory over Maple Grove on Thursday night pushed the Warriors down to the sixth seed in Section 6 Class C-1, meaning Salamanca is projected to visit No. 3 Tapestry Charter (14-6). The other likelihood, in the event of a Maple Grove victory, would have been a trip to play No. 4 Silver Creek.
"Either one of those teams is a challenge for us," Bennett said before learning the CL score, "but again, in order to go where you want to go, you've got to play good teams along the way."
Salamanca’s junior varsity team also finished the season with a 58-40 victory over CV. The win pushes coach Pete Weishan’s JV Warriors to 17-3.
Cassadaga Valley (49)
Peterson 2 1-2 5, Swanson 1 0-0 2, Crabtree 7 8-10 23, Goot 2 0-2 4, Pattyson 3 2-3 8, Moore 3 0-0 7, Catanese 0 0-3 0. Totals: 18 11-20 49.
J. McKenna 5 4-7 14, L. McKenna 1 0-0 2, Snyder 1 0-0 2, Helms 2 0-0 6, George 8 4-5 23, McAuley 2 0-0 5, Ambuske 1 0-0 2, White 6 1-4 13. Totals: 28 11-13 73.
Cassadaga Valley 14 25 34 49
Salamanca 18 45 59 73
Three-point goals: CV 2 (Crabtree, Moore), Salamanca 6 (Helms 2, George 3, McAuley). Total fouls: CV 13, Salamanca 18. Fouled out: None.
JV: Salamanca, 58-40.