Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — The No. 4-seed Tonawanda boys basketball team hung tough against No. 1-seed Fredonia for 16 minutes Tuesday night at Buffalo State College in a B-1 semifinal matchup. But the Hillbillies outscored the Warriors 36-22 in the second half to cruise to a 59-39 victory.
Tonawanda struggled with Fredonia’s size on the interior, struggling to score for long stretches in the game. The Billies turned away a large amount of Warrior shots in the paint and, especially in the second half, THS just didn’t seem comfortable.
“We came out a bit flat in the second half and didn’t really run our offense real precisely, and that hurt us,” said Tonawanda coach Hank Hughes. “We just held the ball and stalled, and when we do that we don’t get good looks. All it takes against a good team like Fredonia is two or three minutes, and then it’s hard to recover.”
The Warriors trailed by six points at halftime, 23-17, but the Billies went on a 16-4 run out of the break, and the game was never in question from that point forward.
Despite the disappointing end to their season, Hughes expressed his satisfaction and pride in the fact the Warriors made their way back to Buffalo State.
“Early on, we looked discombobulated. It’s a pleasure to coach guys that want to come and work hard,” Hughes said. “They achieved a lot. This was one of their goals — I made them write down three goals at the beginning of the season. I looked back and I said, ‘Look guys, you wrote down getting to Buff. State and you did.’”
As far as senior Ben Stich and Connor Pumm, Hughes is grateful to both for their exceptional contributions to the THS basketball program — as players and as people.
“Three years with those guys and they’re my captains. They were a big part of turning this program around — part of the success here,” he said. “Four winning seasons in a row where Tonawanda is really unbelievable. They were a big part of it and they’re nice kids too. When it’s all said and done this hurts, but it was a good season and I’m proud of those guys.”
Stich scored 10 points in his final game and was a terror on the defensive end, making life tough for Fredonia ball handlers all game long. The senior said he wasn’t quite prepared to say goodbye to his teammates, but he is thrilled at the success the team had this season.
“Right now it’s definitely sad — being the last game. We knew coming in they were a great team and this could be our last game,” Stich said. “I mean, we thought we were going to win, but it’s definitely sad right now. I’m going to miss all the guys and coach — it was a fun year.”
As for the future, Hughes said the forecast is still bright. Tristan Boling scored a team-high 19 points and will return for his senior season, while younger brother Trey Boling, only an eighth grader, played big minutes for the Warriors against Fredonia and should only get better.
“As long as those guys play all summer and work hard and continue to grow,” Hughes said. “I think those two are good players. Tristan had a real good year for me. Trey for being an eighth grader — (tonight) was a big stage for an eighth grader and he did a nice job.”Fredonia 59, Tonawanda 39 TON 8 9 9 13 -- 39 FRE 13 10 25 11 -- 59 TON -- Trstn . Boling 19, Ellman 2, Frye 1, Pumm 7, B. Stich 10. FRE -- Cunnigham 5, Johnston 7, Meyer 25, Moore 2, Piper 14, N. Voss 1, C. Voss 5. 3-point goals -- B. Stich 2, Johnston, Meyer 2. Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.