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Thunderbirds upended by Olmsted in C-1 final

March 3, 2016
By Cody Crandall ( , Westfield Republican

JAMESTOWN (Feb. 26) - The Section VI Class C1 championship between No. 2 Olmsted and No. 4 Chautauqua Lake had everything you could ask for as a basketball fan.

From a packed gym at Jamestown Community College's Physical Education Complex, to splendid individual performances, to both teams trading blows throughout all four quarters, both the Owls and Thunderbirds gave spectators an absolute treat.

When the buzzer sounded, however, it was Olmsted who held off a furious fourth-quarter rally from Chautauqua Lake and claimed the championship with a 54-51 victory.

Article Photos

Photo by Alex Shipherd
Chautauqua Lake’s Devin Pope drives to the basket during the No. 4 Thunderbirds’ Section 6 Class C-1 boys basketball final against No. 2 Olmsted at Jamestown Community College.

After trailing, 45-37, heading into the fourth quarter, Chautauqua Lake climbed its way back into the game thanks to clutch play from the likes of Aaron Swan (21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists), Carter Davidson (17 points, five 3-pointers) and Devin Pope (10 points, eight rebounds and four assists).

The Thunderbirds were able to cut the deficit to as little as one at 52-51 after Swan split a pair from the charity stripe with 35.4 seconds left, and had several chances to tie the game thanks to missed free throws from Olmsted, but just didn't have enough in the tank to pull out the victory.

"I want guys on my team that don't want to lose," said Chautauqua Lake head coach Mike Putney following the loss. "These guys don't want to lose. They are very upset by this. ... These guys take it to the heart. You can't coach that. You either have that desire in you and my guys have that desire in them that they do not want to lose. ... I'm super proud of them. They give everything they have."

Putney was right, his team without a doubt gave everything it had and put forth a valiant effort, but so did the Owls.

Olmsted's Master Radford turned in an absolutely outstanding performance, pouring in a game-high 22 points and unofficially hauling in 20 rebounds.

With Olmsted's primary scoring option, Brandon Roach (25 points per game), having an off night, it was the stellar play of Radford, who is only a sophomore, that was a huge difference maker for the Owls.

"You can tell he's a sophomore," said Olmsted coach Andrew Bush when asked about Radford. "This kid is young, but he has the potential. And he's always working hard. He's very quiet but always working hard in the gym. ... I'm very impressed with (his) progress."

Radford made his presence felt right from the opening tip, scoring nine points in the first quarter en route to 17 points at half.

Olmsted wound up holding a 30-21 lead at the break, but nine first-half points from Swan, who gave the Owls' defense fits throughout, allowed the Thunderbirds to hang within striking distance. Davidson also provided a bulk of the offense for Chautauqua Lake in the first half, knocking down two 3s.

Christian Barnes got hot for Olmsted in the third quarter, scoring eight points - including two shots from long range - to help keep the Owls' advantage at eight heading into the game's final eight minutes.

With their backs against the wall, the Thunderbirds began to chip away once the fourth quarter began.

Swan was instrumental in the fourth-quarter surge for Chautauqua Lake, scoring seven of his team-high 21 points in the decisive final stanza.

"Aaron Swan is just a phenomenal player," Putney said of the 6-foot junior. "He's so much fun to have on your team. He pushes everybody to play their best. ... Tonight, it was nice because he got to showcase his skills in front of a lot of people. And his name needs to get out there because he is one great player."

With the Thunderbirds trailing by seven with 4:28 remaining, Davidson sank a huge 3-pointer to cut the deficit to just 48-44. Davidson, a senior, sank a total of five shots from distance, putting an exclamation point on an outstanding career for Chautauqua Lake.

"Carter is a heads-up player," Putney said. "Carter is very smart. We want the ball in Carter's hands. ... Coming from a small school, he's a great kid. I hope to see him play at the next level."

An acrobatic layup from Pope with around a minute remaining cut the Olmsted lead to 52-50.

After an Olmsted turnover on an inbounds pass, Swan was then fouled with 35.4 seconds remaining and hit 1 of 2 from the line to make it a one-point game.

Roach, who ended up scoring only nine points for Olmsted, calmly sank two shots from the free throw line to make the score 54-51 with a shade over 30 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, they were unable to crawl any closer after the two clutch free throws from the 6-foot-1 senior guard.

Barnes ended up scoring 12 points for the Owls, while Kaelan Clouser chipped in with seven points.

Olmsted now moves on to the Section VI Class C crossover game Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Buffalo State. The Owls will square off against Middle Early College, which defeated Silver Creek in Friday's C2 final. The winner of that game will represent Western New York in the Far West Regionals.

For Chautauqua Lake, its season may end, but the team has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

"I'm just so proud of these guys," Putney explained. "To get to this level for our community, for the boys program here. ... The game will end. People will forget wins and losses. It's their character that goes on."

NOTES: Chautauqua Lake struggled from the field Friday, connecting on just 18 of 59 shots (31 percent). ... The Thunderbirds also only knocked down 9 of 19 shots from the charity stripe. Tyler Meredith added three points and collected seven rebounds for Chautauqua Lake.



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