BUFFALO, N.Y.-McKinley ended Amherst's 19 game win streak in a thriller at Buffalo State College Tuesday for the Section 6 Class A Championship game 64-61.
The game bounced back and forth all night, with everything riding on the line Senior # 15 Marcus Morris wouldn't let his Macks lose.
McKinley jumped on Amherst early, but the Tigers had a lot of fight and never let up. Even after the Tigers missed many easy chances early in the game, they came out in the second half and rallied with the crowd behind them.
Amherst gave an overall team effort but they weren't able to overcome McKinley's Senior Point Guard Marcus Morris' exceptional performance. Morris put the Macks on his back and finished with a game-high 28 points. " I thought Marcus played great defense. We all know Marcus can shoot, but when we lost the lead he kept saying we need three stops. He was big, his senior leadership was excellent. It was a big time performance, he had an excellent game" said McKinley Head Coach Zaire Dorsey.
This will be Coach Dorsey's second time making it to the Far West Regionals, but most of the kids on this team won't remember the last trip the Macks made, over 5 years ago.
McKinley forced an up-tempo style by pressing most of the game, a style that Amherst is not accustomed to, but McKinley is comfortable playing. Coach Dorsey said " I thought we played well in the first half, the tempo was exactly what we wanted. The third quarter we didn't play the best basketball. But with 2 minutes left in the game our defense was excellent".
McKinley really stepped up in the fourth quarter after giving up an 8 point half-time lead in first few minutes of the third quarter.
With the game on the line, tied at 61, Marcus Morris hit a jump shot from the elbow with 16.8 seconds left to give the Macks the lead. It was the biggest shot in one of the best high school basketball games played this year. Coach Dorsey said of winning the Class A Sectional Championship " It's exciting. This was one of the goals we had at the beginning of the season, we were excited to get the win. The kids are happy and excited to move on and see what we can do Saturday".
Late in the second quarter McKinley's key Junior Forward # 4 Dante Thompson landed hard on his back after his legs were taken out from under him after a rebound. Thompson was down for a few minutes but got up under his own power. Thompson sat out the rest of the game in the win, but the Macks know he will be a key player if they are going to win on Saturday. Coach Dorsey said " Dante should be alright, he bruised his back. We are going to get him in the pool after school tomorrow and stretch him out. He should be ready to go by Saturday".
McKinley improves to 19-3 on the season and will advance to play Aquinas in the Far West Regional game in Rochester on Saturday at 7 PM.