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Westhampton vs. Wadleigh 3/29/98
Federation CLASS B State Final

Westhampton 62 Wadleigh 51

Glens Falls - The buzzer sounded as sophomore Bronson Martin tossed the ball high enough to glance off the Glens Falls Civic Center scoreboard. Then he led a pile of Westhampton boys basketball players at center court. The final piece to that warm huddle - 6-5 senior Jermain Hollman - rested on top of all the others, his arms extended and his inviting grin wide for the charging cameras to capture.
This will forever be the final moments of a glorious championship season for the Westhampton boys basketball team, which survived a scare from PSAL champ Wadleigh, 62-51, last night in the state Federation Class B title game.
The Hurricanes, the state public schools champions, finished 28-0 and with one of the more memorable runs by a Long Island team in recent memory. They also become the first public school from Long Island to win a Federation title since Bridgehampton took the Class D championship in 1986.
"It's assumed the Catholic and the private schools are automatically better than the public schools," Westhampton coach Rich Wrase said. "But I think there is something to the closeness we have. We've played together for five years."
Hollman proved a final time just how valuable he has been over five seasons. After missing his first five shots, Hollman hit his next six and carried the Hurricanes whenever they needed a spark. He was named tournament MVP for a night that included 22 points (10-for-16 shooting), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and poise.
"I watched him the other day, and I told my guys that's who we needed to key in on," Wadleigh coach Steve Romagnoli said. "We wanted to double him whenever he got the ball in the post. But we were a step or two slower than him."
But years of work toward this precious goal looked to be unraveling before a raucous crowd of 2,000 midway through the third quarter. Wadleigh senior Kendal Hannon hit only net with a three-point attempt and backed away from the arc with a swagger in his step. It sent shrieks through the Civic Center and put the Tigers in front for the first time, 39-38, with 2:55 to go.
Then came another blow to the Hurricanes. Senior point guard Dale Menendez was hit with his second charging call of the quarter with 1:36 left, his fourth foul of the game. He would sit on the bench for the next 3:08. Six-foot-six forward Dwayne Sanders then collected his fourth foul with under a minute to go in the third and also went to the bench.
"We put it all on the line against St. Mary's in the semifinal, and I didn't know how much was left in our tank," said Wrase, whose team has been playing at playoff intensity for more than six weeks. "I felt we had a quarter of a tank left. But a quarter of a tank got us through the day."
Up stepped junior Jeremy Liggon to fill in for Menendez against the swarming Tigers' press and in came 6-3 senior Mike Ford, who pulled down key rebounds. They were stop-gap measures that held off Wadleigh (26-1).
"Teams don't press us like that," said senior Jason Ritchie, who was named to the All-Tournament team. "I wasn't worried when Dale went out. Jeremy is a great player, and he played great when we needed it."
Meanwhile, Hollman worked his magic. Twice he broke ties in the final two minutes of the third, the last by making 1 of 2 free throws with 26 seconds left, making it 42-41. It was the last time Wadleigh held a share of the lead.
After 5-7 junior dynamo James Parks - who had a game-high 23 points, but only five in the second half - drilled a three to pull the Tigers within 50-46 with 3:38 left in the game, Hollman countered with a pair of inside baskets over the next 1:15 to seemingly break Wadleigh's spirit.
Not to be lost in the war of unbeatens was the play of Menendez, who had 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. When he wasn't scoring, Menendez helped set up his teammates with penetrating drives and crisp passes. He also passed up on chances to go over 1,000 points in his three-year career. Asked about coming up one point short of the exclusive scoring plateau, Menendez shrugged: "This is the way I wanted it to end, with a championship."

STATE FEDERATION CLASS B Championship Box Score
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
Westhampton151982062
Wadleigh131991051
Wadleigh: Mack 1-0-2, Rahman 1-4-6, Hannon 2-0-5, Walters 5-2-12, Morris 1-1-3, Parks 9-0-23. Totals: 19-7-51.
Westhampton:
Menendez 7-0-14, Hollman 10-2-22, Ritchie 2-5-10, Sanders 1-1-3, Martin 1-0-2, Liggon 1-3-5, Ford 3-0-6. Totals: 25-11-62.
Three-point goals - Wadleigh 6
(Parks 5, Hannon);
Westhampton 1 (Ritchie).


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