Let this be a warning to the top-ranked Class C boys basketball team in the state:
“This is going to be a battle.”
So says longtime West Canada Valley coach Steve Porter, whose top-seeded Indians – 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season – will have to be at their best when they meet Watertown’s Immaculate Heart Central (19-1) in the Section III Class C-2 championship game at 7:45 p.m. Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Thanks to Onondaga Central, Porter’s Indians are battle-tested. They were pushed to the limit by the Tigers last Saturday, but all-state senior forward Jared Suderley scored a career-high 40 points – including the winning free throws with 3.4 seconds left in overtime – and grabbed 15 rebounds as West Canada Valley pulled out a 59-57 semifinal win at Rome Free Academy.
Now, Suderley and the Indians face a second-seeded IHC team ranked 10th in the state and riding a 15-game winning streak. And the Cavaliers have a shooting star of their own in 6-foot-2 swingman Connor Caldwell.
The 6-foot-5 Suderley leads West Canada with 23.4 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, 54 blocks and 47 steals, and he’s second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,157 career points. Caldwell, already IHC’s all-time scoring leader with 1,340 points, leads all Section III scorers with his 32 points per game.
“We’re not going to stop him, but we’re going to try to contain him,” Porter said. “He’s good inside and out. We’d prefer to keep him on the perimeter and get a hand in his face, but it’s tough to use weak-side help because he’s such a good penetrator.”
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