SALAMANCA — Defense mostly won out over offense in the season opener between the Salamanca and Randolph boys basketball teams.
But Randolph eighth grader Drew Hind made the Warriors pay for the handful of times their defense lost him Wednesday night. Hind drilled seven three-pointers, including three in a crucial 9-1 run to close the third quarter, leading Randolph with 23 points off the bench to lift the Cardinals to a 44-32 non-league victory.
Wearing the same No. 3 his older brother, Tyler, wore for the Cardinals, Drew Hind stepped into big shoes playing for his father, coach Kevin Hind. He’s also coming off an injury that limited him in the first week of practice.
“Just happy for him,” Kevin Hind said. “Obviously Ty has graduated off on a good college career (at Daemen) and Drew’s been waiting for his chance for a long time. He broke his wrist about six weeks ago, just got his shooting hand cast off two weeks ago. He just started getting back into the gym and really wasn’t shooting great here for the last couple weeks, trying to get back through that.
“I’d have never guessed just from the first week of practice that was the result, but his confidence is through the roof, always has been. He just lives for the game and he’s been in the gym his whole life and he said to me last night, ‘I’m just so excited.’”
Also for Randolph, Ashton Bushey scored 15 points, including six in the fourth quarter to help seal the game.
The last time these longtime rivals met was on March 3, 2020, in the Section 6 Class C2 semifinal. Soon after that, they endured a long layoff — with the rest of New York basketball teams — until receiving clearance to begin practice.
“I just got done telling the boys it brought me back alive again,” Kevin Hind said. “You spend 10, 11 months without doing what you do, which is coach basketball for the last 23, 24 years: two weeks ago your cell phone’s dead, not a lot of texts coming in, all of a sudden we’re playing and we’re having a season, phone’s blowing up. You have parents, you have fans, you have friends, you have people out of the woodwork and it’s just awesome to be back in a gym and it honestly feels like things are moving again. That was a really great feeling.”
Freshman Lucus Brown marked team-highs with 15 points and six rebounds. Senior Lucas McKenna chipped in with eight points and three steals.
The Warriors’ 32 points were lower than any game last season, when their season-low was 44. Salamanca coach Adam Bennett expressed confidence his offense will come around, but was less understanding of the team’s defensive breakdowns.
“There’s no excuses, we’ve got to rep it better, we’ve got to prepare better,” Bennett said. “Give them credit, they played hard, start to finish. They were so disciplined. They really make you work offensively and I thought for 80% of the game we were disciplined defensively, but it was that 20% where we had a breakdown and their good players beat us and that can’t happen. We have to be prepared better to stop the players that we know can beat us and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Randolph held Salamanca senior big man Jarod White, who averaged 14 points per game last season, to just two on a pair of free throws.
“We’ll get better offensively,” Bennett said. “Jarod White had two points, that’s not going to happen much. Again, we knew this was going to be a defensive battle. It’s early. We’re nine days out of a 10-month break, so offense is going to come. It’s like I said earlier, it’s going to be defending and rebounding early on. We’re going to score the ball, but the better we defend the more we can get out in transition and the easier it’s going to be score.”
Kevin Hind said he expected the Cardinals to lean on defense with key role players including Bushey, Isaac Hind and Jaiden Huntington returning from a Section 6 Class C2 champion team.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they lifted. They weren’t in the best basketball shape and they’re still not, but defensively is where it’s going to be at for us and I couldn’t have been happier,” Hind said. “We didn’t really work on defense a lot to be quite honest with you because our goal was get used to handling the ball again, get back in shape and shoot the ball.”
AT SALAMANCA Randolph (44)
Bushey 7 0-0 15, D. Hind 7 2-2 23, DeBuque 2 0-0 4, Shields 1 0-0 2, I. Hind 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 2-2 44.
McKenna 4 0-0 8, Brown 3 7-8 15, McLarney 3 1-2 7, White 0 2-6 2, Herrick 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 10-16 32.
Randolph 8 21 38 44
Salamanca 8 16 28 32
Three-point goals: Rand 8 (D. Hind 7, Bushey); Sala 2 (Brown 2). Total fouls: Rand 13, Sala 9. Fouled out: None.
JV: Randolph, 40-36.