Blue Devils capture Winter Classic in competitive final at Ken East
When Kenmore East and Kenmore West clash, regardless of the sport, throw out the records and get ready for some intense competition.
Alex Price was named tournament MVP and Adam Fron enjoyed the game of his life as the Blue Devils scored a 51-46 overtime win over the Bulldogs to claim the championship of the Ken-Ton Winter Classic that was played at Kenmore East on Dec.28.
“In the first couple minutes of the game I looked over to the bench and told our assistant coaches ‘I told ya.’” said Blue Devils’ head coach Mike Meetze, whose team won its third straight Ken-Ton Winter Classic. “It’s going to be one of those games that’s going to go down to the wire.
“You could see they were ready,” he added. “They got a lot of confidence from their win over Cardinal O’Hara and they came out and matched us with intensity right from the get-go.”
Trailing 13-8 at the end of the first, Meetze looked at his somewhat shocked group and reminded them to throw out the records and ranking, because East wasn’t going to back down.
He noted if they didn’t match the Bulldogs intensity it would be a long night.
Meetze said though he was certainly proud his team came through, truthfully he felt they didn’t match Ken-East’s passion until overtime.
Ken-West beat Sweet Home 62-46 to earn the trip to the title game, while the Bulldogs scored a win over Cardinal O’Hara.
If the Blue Devils thought Ken-East was going to fold because of how the match up looked on paper, West was mistaken.
The Bulldogs, fueled by their 69-53 win over O’Hara, knew all the pressure was on Ken-West and played with reckless abandon.
Mike Crawford, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Bulldogs with 20 points against West. Crawford also had 10 points in the Bulldogs’ win over O’Hara.
Meetze gave his coaching counterpart Jay Robbins of East full marks for a smart gameplan that had the Bulldogs taking their time with each of its offensive possession, so they could slow the tempo of the game and keep the Blue Devils off balance.
Whether it was hitting the open three or finding lanes and driving for a layup, the Bulldogs were finding ways to score, while West’s frustration seemed to mount.
Quinton Campbell, though triple teamed most of the night, had 11 points for Ken-West. But it was Campbell’s defense that stood out as the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-7 center pulled down 16 rebounds and had five blocked shots. Campbell also had 16 boards in the win over Sweet Home.
Though the Bulldogs gave a gusty effort, Price and Campbell showed why they are two of the best in Western New York as Campbell took control in the paint and Price hit 5 of 6 key free throws in the fourth.
“They did what you expect your leaders to do,” Meetze noted of the players.
Price led the way with 21 points in the opening round win over Sweet Home.
Adam Fron picked up some of the offensive duties as he kicked in with 10 points and seven rebounds and was essentially all over the court working non-stop.
Meetze said Fron, who was selected to the all-tournament team, was one of the few players that played strong defense the entire game.
Bulldogs’ point guard Pat Schroeder made all-tournament, while Deion Brown, who had 28 points in the win over O’Hara, was selected as the winner of the Sportsmanship Award.
Sweet Home beat O’Hara 56-35 in the third place game.
In girls action, the Blue Devils went 0-2 in the Matt Colpoys Memorial Tournament that they hosted on Dec.28 and 29.
The Blue Devils fell to Sweet Home, 33-23, in the opening game, then lost the third place game to a hot-shooting Iroquois team, 51-34.
After the game, coach Mike Licata stressed that it’s still a work in progress and, with young teams, you look for the smaller victories along the way as players work to get better.
“We’re a very young team and we haven’t learned how to win yet,” Licata said. “We’re doing some things better and better every game.”
Mt. Mercy erased a 13-2 deficit to beat Sweet Home 42-39 in overtime to claim its fifth Colpoys title and first since 2004.
Allison Balys, a great-niece of firefighter Matt Colpoys, hit the shot that forced overtime.
The Colpoys tournament does not select an all-tournament team. Instead, scholarships in Colpoys name will be handed out to one player from each of the four teams later in the school year.