JAMESTOWN - Silver Creek senior Kaine Kettle has played in the Section 6 Class C playoffs at Jamestown Community College three years in a row and every time he has hit a clutch basket or made his presence known.
Monday night, in a semifinal game against No. 1 Barker, Kettle rose to the occasion once again with a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes to propel the Black Knights to a 62-48 victory and a third-straight trip to the championship game.
After committing four fouls in the first quarter, Kettle was relegated to the bench for the rest of the first half. Kettle started the second half and was out of sync. However, as the Black Knights watched their 13-point lead in the fourth quarter dwindle to six, Kettle stepped up and hit a straight-away trey to give the Knights a 52-43 edge with three minutes to play.
OBSERVER Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Silver Creek’s Billy Brooks (32) attacks the rim in Monday’s 62-48 Section 6 Class C-1 playoff victory over the Barker Raiders.
"That's Kettle," Silver Creek coach Rob Genco said. "You live and die by him, and I live by him. Since he has been in 10th grade in this gym, he has had ice cold water in his veins and has knocked down big shot after big shot."
From that point on, Silver Creek closed the game on a 10-5 run for the victory. The fourth quarter looked eerily similar to that of last year's New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinal game at Glens Falls, where the Black Knights could not hit a shot and watched Pine Plains escape with a 52-49 victory.
"We didn't stop penetrating or stop getting to the rim," Genco said of Monday. "The ball just went in and out a couple times. When that starts happening, we think 'Well here we go again.' That happened last year at Glens Falls. We had great looks and the ball wouldn't go in."
While Kettle provided the clutch late-game shots, Billy Brooks once again had a dynamite performance as he showcased all his talents on the basketball court. Rebounding, passing, inside game, mid-range game and defense, Brooks did it all. He finished with 21 points, 24 rebounds and eight blocks.
"I told him before this game, 'You're the key to us. You haven't played to your potential because you're worried about everything outside those lines.
I want you to be the best player in that building tonight,' and I think he got it," Genco said. "He got 24 rebounds because he didn't care who shot. He just thinks he is going to go get it and he did."
Brooks wasn't the only player getting key rebounds as Brennan White and Andrew John each had big rebounds in key situations.
While White's stats don't don't jump out, the 5-foot-10 junior was a key defensive player.
After Brooks picked up his second foul in the first quarter, the Black Knights adjusted defensively and put White on Barker's 6-foot-6 post player Bryce Moeller.
"They didn't go after Billy after his second foul, but what we did was we put Brennan on (Moeller)," Genco said. "Brennan White is so strong and he is the reason Billy stayed out of trouble. We play five guys as long as we can. Once we get in foul trouble, we switch the matchups. We adjust defensively."
Silver Creek jumped out to an 11-3 lead early in the first quarter as the Raiders uncharacteristically turned the ball over several times in the opening minutes. After a Barker timeout, the No. 1 seed quickly scored eight straight as the first quarter ended, 11-all.
In the second quarter, Brooks went to work as he scored seven points and added a pair of fancy assists to lead the Black Knights to a 16-8 run for a 27-19 halftime cushion.
Silver Creek opened up the third quarter on a 9-2 run to jump out to a 15-point lead. However, the Raiders hung around and were able to get it back to an eight-point deficit heading into the final frame.
The closest Barker came to tying the score was 49-43, and that's when Kettle sparked the decisive 13-5 run to put the game away.
"We knew as soon as they got comfortable, we were going to have a battle," Genco said. "It was one of those nights where (Barker's Jacob) Height wasn't hitting his shots. If he stayed cold, we could weather the storm."
And Silver Creek did just that as it will now play Middle College in the Class C-1 championship game at JCC on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
"We are looking forward to it," Genco said. "This is what we have been talking about. We knew we had to go through Middle College. It's three years in a row where we see them."
NOTES: Kettle finished with nine points - seven in the fourth quarter ... White and Trevon Thompson each had eight points.