BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Brentwood’s offense went cold at the worst possible time.
The Indians struggled to stage a late-game rally Saturday night, falling 70-57 to West Genesee in the state Class AA championship game at Maines Arena. It was the first final appearance for Brentwood since 2015 and the program is still searching for its first title.
“It was two championship-level teams going at it. I didn't expect anything less than a fierce battle,” Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. “They handled some possessions better than we did and I think they got to us a little bit and some shots didn't fall for us.”
Jordan Riley finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Indians. Bryce Harris added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Kenny Lazo chipped in 11 points.
Brentwood (25-2) trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, and were held scoreless for the first 5:40 of the frame, but the Indians did their best to push, sparked by Lazo and Riley. The pair combined to score the Indians’ final seven points of the quarter and Riley drained a basket with just over a minute into the fourth to make it a four-point game.
That was as close as Brentwood would get. West Genesee answered with a quick offensive burst, scoring the next seven to push the lead to 11 with 5:35 to play.
“I think it came down to mistakes and the ball fell in their favor,” Harris said. “We worked hard, but it just went with them.”
The Wildcats spread the ball out, but junior guard Will Amica proved a thorn in Brentwood’s side all night. His three-point play with 6:31 left to play took some of the wind out of Brentwood’s sails and his performance on the defensive side of the ball helped forced the Indians into a handful of second-half turnovers.
Amica, who was named the tournament MVP, finished with 26 points.
Brentwood did its best to answer every West Genesee push with one of its own from the opening tip and the teams traded baskets early. Harris once again stole the spotlight, slamming down a dunk with 3:07 left in the first quarter to give Brentwood an 11-9 lead. The Indians took a two-point cushion into the second and seemed to settle into their game plan on both sides of the floor, bringing defensive pressure and pushing tempo in transition.
The quick-pace helped spark a 12-5 Brentwood run in the opening minutes of the second and, with 4:45 left in the first half, the Indians jumped out to a 28-19 lead.
West Genesee responded quickly. The Wildcats staged a run of their own, scoring 10 straight and wrapping up the first half on an 11-2 run. Harris scored Brentwood’s only bucket in the offensive lull as the Indians went into the break with the score knotted at 30.
“Everything is a learning experience, and we tried to gather them at halftime to regroup,” Jimenez said. “West Genesee was tough, you had to give it to them.”
Brentwood’s offense struggled to regain its rhythm coming out of the break.
The Indians racked up empty possessions throughout the second half, coming up short on jumpers and were unable to grab many second-chance looks. West Genesee outscored Brentwood 40-27 in the final two quarters, holding the Indians to 14 points in the fourth.
It’s a disappointing finish for Brentwood, but Jimenez said he’s proud of the way his team competed and hopes the loss will help fuel next year’s Indians squad.
“I think for tonight, I’m just going to let them heal a little bit,” Jimenez said. “We competed to the best of our ability.”