MANLIUS — Seneca coach Russell Witte told Conlan Callahan he had to come to play Friday night for the regional championship. Seneca’s junior guard lived up to his coach’s directions well.
With the game tied at 50, Callahan dished off to Irish teammate Chris Lee, who scored with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift the Irish to a 52-50 victory over the St. Bede Bruins.
Callahan, who led the Irish with 18 points, said the play wasn’t really designed that way, but he knew what he had to do.
“I saw eight seconds on the clock, I knew we were in spread, I saw an open lane, and I knew I could drive and they’d help and I knew Chris would be there and he’d be ready for the pass and he laid it in. And man it was awesome,” Callahan said.
“Everybody on our team did their job and it was awesome. I’m so happy and proud of all these guys. It feels so good.”
“Conlan just happened to make a great play and Chris made a great catch and finish,” Witte said.
The Irish (25-4), who advance to the Bryon Sectional to face Sterling Newman (25-4) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, are right where they wanted to be, Witte said.
“They set some goals. They wanted to win 25 games, the wanted to be regional champs and it just so happened to be on the same night,” he said.
The game didn’t end without some controversy. St. Bede inbound the ball over halfcourt quickly and called a timeout with 1.8 seconds left. From there, Grant Bosnich attempted a cross-court pass to Brad Groleau, but the pass was intercepted as time ran out. St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin pleaded for a foul call to no avail.
“It’s sad it comes down to one no-call,” he said. “As an official, you can’t not call it. ... One official kept saying take a look at a tape. We’ll, if I’m wrong I’m wrong ,but I don’t think so.”
Witte didn’t see it that way.
“I know Groleau got knocked down, but we had the inside position there. They can say what they will. You got to let the players make the play,” he said.
That’s just what the Irish did on defense, play hard Witte said.
“They just scrapped, scrapped, scrapped, scrapped,” he said. “It starts from the defensive end and playing hard. We knew St. Bede has a lot of weapons, but they haven’t seen defense like we play.”