MANLIUS – Seneca’s second straight Class 2A boys basketball regional championship resulted in a second straight sectional semifinal loss to Sterling Newman Central Catholic Wednesday night.
The Fighting Irish were in it until the fourth quarter but never led after the first as Newman won, 54-39. Seneca bows out at 24-6 overall. A 25-5 season Seneca season in 2012-13 ended with a 45-27 loss to Newman at the 2013 Byron Sectional.
“I thought our defense, our team defense, was very, very good,” Newman coach Ray Sharp said. “And made their shots hard. They kicked us on the boards a little bit [25 to 23] ... but we were very aware of their threats, I thought, all night.”
Guard Alex Bott’s six-point first quarter very nearly allowed the Irish to end it ahead; a last-second, banked-in 3 from Trevor Bolin gave the Comets a 12-11 lead.
Their lead grew early in the second, which Newman forward Noah McCarty began by scoring six unanswered points.
After 3s from Bott and Conlan Callahan drew Seneca within one again, Newman rattled off another seven straight points, with McCarty providing four and AJ Sharp hitting a 3. A late Carter Gallick 3 allowed Seneca to stay within 25-20 at halftime.
The good news for Seneca in the third quarter was that forward Austin Applebee, who had been scoreless in the first half, came alive, scoring nine points.
The bad news was that his were the only nine points scored by the Irish. Newman doubled its lead to 39-29 as Nate Treveer and John Payan hit 3s and Nolan McGinn scored the quarter’s final four points.
Threes from Callahan and Bott in the first half of the fourth quarter did little more for the Irish than allow them to tread water.
They never got closer than nine points in the fourth as Newman closed out a 14-for-14 night at the foul line by making all eight it attempted in the fourth.
“I’ve never seen anything like it – both teams shot 100 percent from the free-throw line,” Seneca coach Russell Witte said, “but they got there 11 more times, and the final ended up being a 15-point spread.”
Applebee’s 13 points and 15 rebounds were both team highs for Seneca, which got 12 points from Bott and six each from Callahan and Carter Gallick.