BUFFALO — After a strong first half, the Salamanca boys basketball couldn’t keep up with a second-half charge from No. 3 Tapestry Charter Tuesday night.
Salamanca led most of the first half, but three straight baskets before halftime gave Tapestry a 29-26 lead at the midway point. From there, the third-ranked small school in the Buffalo News’ Western New York poll grabbed control of the Section 6 Class C1 quarterfinal. Tapestry raced to a 56-39 lead early in the fourth quarter and held on, 62-56.
Senior center Jarod White led the No. 6 Warriors (7-8) with 25 points (18 in the first half) and 12 rebounds. Freshman guard Lucus Brown added 18 points and seven rebounds.
“I thought we played the first half at our pace, which was really important,” Warriors coach Adam Bennett said. “We got them into the halfcourt, we executed offensively in the halfcourt, we got the ball in, to Jarod, we had some nice inside-out looks with Jarod and Lucus. Defensively we kept them out of transition, we stayed in the halfcourt, we played zone to try to slow the game down and I think we were able to do that in the first half. The third quarter, they just overwhelmed us with their athleticism. They got out in transition, we weren't able to keep the game at our pace and that's a credit to them.”
Lamar Matthews led Tapestry with 18 points. Tariq Eubanks had 14 points and Romeo Bell marked a near triple-double of 13 points, 10 assists and seven boards.
“They played an exceptionally tough schedule,” Bennett added. “They played the (Niagara) Falls tough, they played Park tough, they beat Health Sciences, they've got a number of good wins on their schedule. So they had a lot to do with that third quarter in terms of the pace and I couldn't be more proud of our kids. They played their hearts out. They really did from start to finish. They just kept playing and they put their heads down and worked. Even when they took a double-digit lead late in the third and early in the fourth, we fought back and we lost the game by six. So that's just indicative of our team and what we've been all year. These guys just work.
“They're the most enjoyable kids to be around. I've got a terrible feeling in my stomach that our season's ended because I just want more time with these guys. They're a great group of kids.”
Only two years ago, Salamanca took a trip to Tapestry and got doubled up in a 99-48 first-round playoff loss. Tuesday night, the Warriors didn’t get the result they wanted, but played a far more competitive game.
“The biggest indicator is when we lost tonight, our kids were hurting,” Bennett said of the difference from 2019. “We genuinely expected to win the game. There aren't any moral victories in our program and I think that speaks volumes to how far our program has come. We got destroyed up there two years ago and they basically have the same roster. Romeo Bell played in that game, Tariq Eubanks played in that game, they added Massai Graham from Timon, he was on the ESPN Top 100 recruits list for a while a couple years ago. So I think it's just a testament to our team and how far we've come in two years and that's the challenge that I gave all of our guys that are coming back, now we have to go just as far two years from now and keep building.”
White and two fellow senior starters, Lucas McKenna and Jarrett Pond, played their last game on the basketball squad. While Bennett remains optimistic about the Warriors’ future, he will miss these three seniors, who “mean the world” to him.
“Jarod White never picked up a basketball until his freshman year and he goes up to Tapestry his senior year, they do everything they can to stop him and he goes for 25 and 12,” Bennett said. “Lucas McKenna's leadership, we don't even come close to doing what we do without Lucas. And then Jarrett Pond, his confidence and his growth not only on the court but off the court as a man, I couldn't be more proud of all three of those guys. That's what I'm going to miss the most, the fact that we're not going to see them in the gym again is really hard because they are a special group of kids.
“They've represented me, our program and our community with pride and I hope our community's really proud of them or at least as proud as I am of them.”
McKenna 1 0-0 2, Hedlund 1 0-0 2, Maybee 0 2-4 2, Brown 5 5-7 18, Har. Hoag 2 0-1 4, Herrick 1 0-0 2, McLarney 0 1-2 1, White 12 1-4 25. Totals: 22 9-18 56.
Tapestry Charter (62)
Eubanks 6 1-3 14, Matthews 8 0-0 18, Bell 4 5-8 13, Paige 0 0-1 0, Graham 3 3-4 9, Til 1 0-0 2, Washington 2 0-0 6. Totals: 24 9-16 62.
Salamanca 9 26 36 56
Tapestry 6 29 50 62
Three-point goals: Salamanca 3 (Brown 3), Tapestry 5 (Washington 2, Matthews 2, Eubanks). Total fouls: Salamanca 12, Tapestry 17. Fouled out: None.