White team standing from left to right: Greg Mruczeck, Mike Rose, Matt Roach, Coach Alex Brasky, Xavier Green, Nashiem Harris, Coach Cam McDonald
Kneeling from Left to Right. Andrew Mruczek, Alex Candy, Tyler Prospero, Adonis Davis.
2012 Rochester Bash Tourney 8th Grade Champions
Blue team standing from left to right: Xavier Green, Terrell Mapes, Coach Alex Brasky, Jacob Schrider, Greg Mruczeck, Nashiem Harris
Kneeling from Left to Right. Mike Rose, Alex Candy, Tyler Prospero, Adonis Davis. Andrew Mruczek
Cheering, chanting, hugs and tears of joy were all part of a big celebration in Elba last night as the Lady Lancers brought home their Class D State Champions trophy.
"It’s amazing," said Meg Stucko. "It’s like the best day of my life. I never thought the whole community would come together like this. It’s really awesome."
The whole community could celebrate together because the community won together.
Head Coach Tom Nowak praised dozens of volunteers, from scorekeepers to parents who traveled the state to videotape potential opponents in tournament games, along with all the fans who turned out to support the girls.
“They say it takes a whole community to raise a child,” Nowak said. “It takes a whole community to raise a state champion.”
The celebration in the gym followed a lights and sirens escort by the Elba Volunteer Fire Department through the village.
MacKenzie Bezon, who was Most Valuable Player of the title game, was amazed by the public's response.
"I can’t believe our community did this," Bezon said. "It’s not like just we won the championship. It’s the whole town. I just can’t believe it happened. We’ve been working so hard. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a dream."
Nowak said he was exceptionally proud that the Lady Lancers, who knew what to do, executed the game plan and their plays, and stayed in control.
"This is the most composed group of young ladies I've ever been associated with," Nowak said. "I was able to relax because I knew what they could do on the court."
After explaining the story because somebody told him recently "Coach, nobody is perfect," Nowak ended his remarks to thunderous applause when he said, "Right now and forever, these girls are a perfect 25-0."
The plan against Clymer, Elba Head Coach Tom Nowak said, was to play a fast-paced game and wear down the Clymer girls.
"We felt with them not having a lot of depth -- they didn't use a lot of depth during the season -- that we thought we would just try to up-tempo the game a little bit," Nowak said. "We thought that might create some turnovers and down the stretch maybe not be as effective on offense."
The strategy paid off and Clymer was just 3-14 from the floor in the final quarter, allowing the Lady Lancers to pull away with a 53-37 victory and a slot in the state Class D championship final four.
Clymer features some height and athleticism down front, and center Meg Stucko said the Lancers prepared well for what they were going to face.
"We practiced a lot all week for their forwards," Stucko said. "We kind of knew what they were going to do and what we were going to do, so we were ready for it."
Forced turnovers kind of told the story of the game, with Elba's defense taking the ball away a number of times, especially on transitions.
Nowak said, "that's kind of our bread and butter."
Elba is now 23-0 on the season and will face South Kortright (22-0), the state's top-ranked Class D team at 9 a.m. March 17 at Hudson Valley Community College.
"We’re all really excited because we all really want to go to state so bad," Stucko said. "That’s what we’re most excited about, just the chance to be in the state final four is really awesome."
Sparked by Tim McCulley, who scored 21 points, and Doane McCulley, who added 16, the Fighting Irish advanced to the state semi-finals Saturday with a win over Panama in a Western Regional Championship match in Buffalo.
Notre Dame won 62-51.
On Friday, the Irish will face Sackets Harbor in a state semi-finals match at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
For the third time in three meetings in 2012, Notre Dame beat Elba in boys basketball, but this time the game determined the Class D1 Section V champion.
It's the first sectional win for Notre Dame since 2001.
"They all laugh at me because I always say, 'you gotta dance with the girl you brought,' " said Coach Mike Rapone. "That's an old-timers saying, but we're not going to change anything. We're going to do what got us here."
After two previous meetings, both teams had to make adjustments, Rapone said.
"I give Elba a lot of credit," Rapone said. "They knew what we wanted to do and took a lot away from us."
Notre Dame (20-1) took a lead early, and though Elba (18-3) was often nipping at their lead, it wasn't until 3:42 left in the game that the Lancers held a 40-39 lead.
But after Doane McCulley hit a lay up and Zach Hotze sunk a three-pointer, Notre Dame didn't look back, holding on for a 50-45 point victory.
Zach Hotze and Tim McCulley had 16 points each for the Fighting Irish. Jared Thornton added 12 points.
"We're fortunate we hit our big shots when we had to," Rapone said.
One of the goals of the Irish, Rapone said, was to take the three-point play away from Dan Ramsey, whom Rapone said is one of the most consistent three-point shooters in the section.
Dan Ramsey was held to eight points for the game.
For the Lancers, Matt Ramsey had 14 points, Mike Ramsey nine. Mike Ramsey added nine rebounds.
The historic back-to-back championship match-ups between Elba and Notre Dame, with the Elba girls defeating the Notre Dame girls Friday night, was big for both schools.
"I don’t think it gets any better in small-school basketball than Notre Dame and Elba," Rapone said.
It's been a fun season at Notre Dame, according to Rapone, between the two basketball teams and the hockey team winning its Section V championship last week (the Irish skaters lost a regional playoff game Saturday night).
"We have a lot of school spirit and it’s been the most amazing winter ever," Rapone said. "I mean, the girls play for a championship, the boys make that miraculous run in hockey, everybody’s on cloud nine."
The Irish will face DeSales in a regional playoff game on Tuesday night.
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