Not only did the Solanco boy's junior varsity basketball team improve their overall record to 12-3 (8-3 league) after defeating the Hempfield Black Knights at home by a 57-46 score on Tuesday, Jan. 15, they defeated the Knights for the first time in eight years."This was just an awesome game," said assistant coach Chad McDowell. "These young men had a mission."
According to McDowell that mission was to beat Hempfield. "They came out and played with heart and determination and accomplished just that," said McDowell. From McDowell's perspective the difference in the game was the first quarter. "We came out and jumped on them right from the opening tip," said McDowell. "We were able to confuse them both offensively and defensively and we jumped out to a 13 - 4 first quarter lead." From then on the game was played evenly with both teams making runs throughout. The closest Hempfield would get was within six in the fourth quarter before Solanco extended their lead ending with an 11 point victory.
In the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line, Solanco was able to execute well. Late in the game, Hempfield tried to trap all over the floor, by sending two and even three guys to trap on the ball. During this frenzied time, Solanco was able to hold their composure and was able to take care of the ball. They were also able to make some free throws.
"All season we have been able to have a well balanced, team attack each game, where everyone contributes to the team win and against Hempfield that was the case again," said McDowell. "This was a complete team win. However, there was one player who elevated his game on this evening. Mike Buffington came to play and had just an awesome game! He left everything he had on the court." According to McDowell this was the best game he has ever witnessed by a junior varsity player. This was a season-high for Buffington scoring a career-high 30 points. "Mike played a solid game both offensively and defensively," said McDowell. "On the offensive end, Mike took advantage of our spread offense where he was able to get to the rim when their defensive pressure broke down. When he wasn't driving to the basket, he was shooting from the perimeter, where he drained four three-pointers."
Defensively he played a solid game defending Hempfield's post players and crashing the boards. "We are really proud of Mike and his efforts."
McDowell said there are games throughout the season that define a team's season and he thinks this game, along with the win over Manheim Township, last week, are ones that will define Solanco's season.
"We have had our ups and downs, but when this team plays like they are capable of playing, they can compete with the best of teams," said McDowell. "We still have some work to do to close out the season and if we play like we did against Township and Hempfield we will be a team difficult to beat."
Buffington's outstanding night included a combined 20-point outburst in the second and third quarter. Jack Buzzard finished with nine points and Brock Snider ended with five. Ross Kaufman and Tim Latham each contributed four points to the victory with Ben. W. Miller adding three. Mike Fasano drained a bucket for two.
This was a big win for Coach John Glackin and his staff. It marked the first victory over a Black Knights' team in the eight years Glackin has served as head JV coach. He's hoping it's not the last.