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Silver Creek falls to Randolph in league finale 63-60

Photo by Cameron Hurst Silver Creek’s Andre Rosario protects the ball during Thursday’s CCAA Division 1 East boys basketball game in Randolph. The Black Knights fell to the Cardinals 63-60 at Randolph High School.

RANDOLPH – Immediately following their 70-31 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division I East victory over Silver Creek, the energy that stemmed from the Randolph boys’ basketball locker room was palpable.

According to their head coach, that’s become the norm in recent days at 18 Main Street.

“For two days in a row, we’ve just had really great practices,” Kevin Hind said after the victory. “We’ve had great energy. We had a shootaround after school and had great energy and tonight, they’ve had a pop in their step, a pep in their step, they’re at home.”

“This team has just brought their A effort each and every single night,” he added.

That’s an understatement.

With Thursday night’s victory over the Black Knights, Randolph (17-1, 10-0) moved its overall winning streak to 13 since a Dec. 21 setback to Section V’s East High School at Bishop Kearney.

That streak was nearly stunted during the Cardinals’ last meeting with Silver Creek on Jan. 24, using overtime to clinch a 63-60 victory over the Black Knights.

“They just made a lot more shots tonight,” Silver Creek head coach Ralph Jackson said. “We played them well then and they definitely were off that night. Part of that was to our defense, but tonight they were just making shots. We weren’t.”

Silver Creek held a one-point lead early in the first quarter, before Randolph used a 9-2 run to end the frame with a 19-13 lead.

They never looked back.

“The difference in this game was Kaleb Steward,” Hind said of the senior guard. “The first (meeting with Silver Creek), he was a little sluggish. Tonight he was a man.”

Steward, along with Tyler Hind, combined for seven 3-pointers finishing with 20 and 25 points respectively.

“They were trying to take Tyler away and he still ended up with 25 and a great game, but a lot of those shots came from trusting each other,” Coach Hind said. “I’m nine deep. We have guys all over that are hitting shots.”

“You kind of pick your poison,” Jackson added. “When we played them at home, we were trying to hold (Tyler) Hind down and we did a pretty good job at that. Tonight, they all were just were making shots. We had to switch what we were doing on defense.”

Defensively, the Cardinals collectively held Silver Creek to just six points in both the second and third quarters to take control of the game and kept Black Knights leading scorers Dominic Jamison and Samuel Braidich at bay with just 11 points combined.

“That’s not going to get it done against a team that’s this good,” Jackson said of Silver Creek’s offensive struggles.

“We just kept playing defense,” Coach Hind said. “We played straight man the entire game and we were just more physical. We kept making things difficult for them. Eventually, we broke out a couple steals and hit a couple shots. The difference in this game was energy and enthusiasm and the willingness to win.”

That willingness to win is daunting on his end, the Cardinals head coach admitted.

“We have every piece,” he said. “For me, it’s just a balance of trying to figure out different lineups: who’s on? Who’s off? Who’s playing hard.”

Luckily for him, his players have made it easy for him to figure that out.

“Over at Silver Creek was the only game this year where there was a little bit of a letdown with being on the road,” he added. “Effort wise, they are just bringing it every single night.”

Moving forward, Jackson knows Thursday’s matchup will help them get in shape for the playoffs.

“We’re not going to play as good of a team as Randolph until later in the playoffs,” he said. “This is just a good game to get us ready.”

With two regular-season games looming for the Cardinals, however, Hind is hopeful his team can continue to keep its focus.

“Obviously you just keep playing, you stay fresh and it’s going to be two weeks from (Friday) that the playoffs start and next week, we have to keep prepping and staying in shape,” he said. “This next month is what it’s been about for 10 years if not longer. You’re excited to be in the position that we’re at and playing good basketball night in and night out and we’re truly happy.”

“It’s just been a fun year,” he added.

NOTES: Andre Rosario led Silver Creek with 11 points. Spencer Harford finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Steward led Randolph with seven rebounds and had two steals. Ty Rosengren also drained three 3-pointers to finish with nine points and also had two steals.

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