Big game in Silver Creek on Thursday in the upcoming week

‘The Week Ahead’

OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz Silver Creek guard Tucker Gates (23) goes up for a shot during a game against Allegany-Limestone last week. Gates’ Black Knights host Randolph on Thursday night in a shot at redemption for Silver Creek.

With everyone off tonight because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the local high school basketball teams have an extended break to rest up for the final stretch of league games over the next few weeks. This week features a particularly light schedule early in the week, while things pick up heavily on Thursday for the boys and Friday for the girls. While the eyes of the basketball community may be looking ahead to the second meeting of the Dunkirk and Fredonia boys on Thursday in Fredonia, another game that night will have even more crucial stakes attached in terms of the respective league standings.

On Thursday night, the Silver Creek Black Knights boys basketball team will see a familiar league foe, the Randolph Cardinals, in Silver Creek. Certainly after the last time the two teams met, this time around will have Silver Creek dying for a chance at redemption.

Silver Creek (9-5, 3-2) started off the new year in Randolph on Jan. 4, and jumped ahead to a 37-23 lead to begin the fourth quarter — but that’s when it all changed. Randolph (10-3, 4-1) scored six straight points to cut the deficit to single digits, and then a scrum between the two teams after a loose ball foul. A player from each team received a technical foul during the fracas, then Silver Creek picked up an additional technical foul for a shove away from the play. After Randolph star Ty Hind hit both free-throws and then a jump shot, the Silver Creek lead was down to just four points, 37-33.

The Cardinals and Black Knights nearly matched each other for the next few minutes of the quarter, as Silver Creek led by three points with just over a minute left. Randolph cut it to just a point, but then Brady Woleben put the Black Knights back up by three, 48-45, with just 45 seconds left to play. Then, with 32 seconds left, Randolph finally erased the deficit with a corner 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining by Branson Morrison. Silver Creek tried to answer but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 from the free-throw line, which set up Hind with the ball in his hands with the shot clock turned off and a chance to win the game in front of his home crowd. Hind delivered, and drilled a jump shot with 2.2 seconds left to win the game.

Needless to say, that last game between the two teams on Jan. 4 wasn’t the way Silver Creek wanted to begin league play this year. But this week, the Black Knights have the chance to redeem themselves, this time in front of their home crowd. Silver Creek bounced back from the loss in Randolph with three straight league wins, before dropping its last game, on Friday night in Silver Creek against league-leading Allegany-Limestone. Both Silver Creek and Randolph will be coming in well-rested, as each team’s last game was on Friday.

A matchup of two of the top scorers in Western New York — Randolph’s Hind and Silver Creek’s Woleben — would have been intriguing enough. With everything else surrounding Thursday’s game, this will surely be a matchup that basketball fans won’t want to miss.

Notes: Aside from Thursday’s games of Dunkirk/Fredonia and Randolph/Silver Creek, there are still other key focal points of the week. The Westfield Wolverines boys basketball team looks to avenge a pair of losses from earlier in the season to Chautauqua Lake, as the Thunderbirds head to Westfield on Tuesday night. The Wolverines will return to league play on Thursday, against Clymer, also in Westfield.

In the girls basketball scene, Friday night will go a long way in terms of CCAA Division 1 West, as the Dunkirk Lady Marauders host Maple Grove. With Olean, Southwestern and Maple Grove all at 4-1 in the league, while Chautauqua Lake, Fredonia and Dunkirk all sit at 1-4, Friday night may be the Lady Marauders’ last chance to get back in the division race. With a loss, Dunkirk will be forced to focus solely on preparation for the sectional playoffs. Fredonia is also in action on Friday night, on the road at Olean.

Twitter: @bradencarmen