UTICA — West Canada Valley boys basketball coach Dave Smith did what he could to prepare his team for Saturday afternoon's Center State Conference Division II rematch with Herkimer.
This wasn't just any CSC game. This was a league game scheduled as part of the third annual Mohawk Valley Basketball Classic at Utica College.
And Smith's team responded with a 77-61 victory that extended its winning streak to eight games, including a six-point win over Herkimer's Magicians on Dec. 11.
A few more flicks from the Mohawk Valley Basketball Classicpic.twitter.com/fip2aFbYnA— Q U E L H U N C H O (@OD_Slaughter)January 6, 2019
"I told the guys to keep their composure before they hit the gym and take a couple of deep breaths, because when you get out there, it’s going to be overwhelming," Smith said. "But most importantly, go out and have fun."
They did, especially Logan Valerio and Jacob Smith. They both scored 15 points to help West Canada Valley improve to 6-0 in league play and 10-2 overall.
Valerio came off the bench to earn MVP honors and Smith was one of 12 scholarship winners – a total of $1,200 was given out to one player from each team during the six-game event.
Herkimer coach Mark Blask’s Magicians fell to 3-3 in the league and 7-6 overall. They were led by sportsmanship winner Mardoni Laguerre, who poured in a game-high 22 points. Jordyn Lanaux had 14 points. Scholarship winner James Aiello netted 11.
Drew Soron’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer for a 19-11 West Canada lead after one period. That stretched to 33-26 at halftime, and Jaeden Beam’s 3 in the final seconds of the third gave WCV a 58-46 lead.
Six players scored in double figures for WCV. Casey Dibble had 13 points, Soron scored 12, and Beam and Nathaniel Rath each added 10.
The most riveting points, though, came from Michael Senkiv, a senior with down syndrome who entered the game in the final minute to loud applause, and received an even louder ovation when he made a jump shot in the closing seconds.
"He’s like our glue," coach Smith said. "Everybody rallies around him. We lost to Holland Patent pretty handily (56-45 on Nov. 29), and he came in the game and scored. It makes you forget about some things and appreciate life.
"It’s really great to see him get in games. When he does, it’s really special for him. I try to get him in the game whenever I can."
Contact reporter Marquel Slaughter at 315-792-4963 or follow him on Twitter @OD_Slaughter.