Weekly Feature



2009-12-23 / Sports

Tigers’ hoops rebound with decisive home victory

Amherst dedicates renovated court in honor of late HOF coach
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

by Springville’s Kevin Lutz Friday at Amherst Central High School. The Tigers won, 70-36. Photo by Scott Schild Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com by Springville’s Kevin Lutz Friday at Amherst Central High School. The Tigers won, 70-36. Photo by Scott Schild Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Amherst Central boys basketball team rebounded from a heartbreaking loss in a big way at home Friday.

The Tigers, who lost, 53-51, at East Aurora Dec. 15, totally dominated Springville, 70-36.

Amherst outscored Springville, 25-8, after the first quarter and went up, 47-17, at halftime.

“It was a statement game,” said Amherst coach Chris Kensy. “They felt like we should have won Tuesday. They came out and played as perfect of a first half as they could.”

Nico McLean scored all 14 of his points in the first half. He also added 10 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.

“He really took the game over from the get-go,” said Kensy. “He’s such an unselfish player for us. He has good basketball IQ and court vision. He played a good game.”

Mike Hettler speaks Friday during the dedication ceremony of the basketball court at Amherst Central High School. It now bears his father’s name, Bob Hettler. Photo by Scott Schild Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Mike Hettler speaks Friday during the dedication ceremony of the basketball court at Amherst Central High School. It now bears his father’s name, Bob Hettler. Photo by Scott Schild Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Michael Derr (12 points, three assists), Keyontee Colbert (eight points, career-high 14 rebounds, two blocks), Ryan Schmidt (five points, five rebounds, career-high six blocks), D.J. Lowe (nine points, three rebounds) and Dion Merrill (two points, 10 rebounds) also contributed.

Derr hit two three-pointers to give him seven for the season.

Amherst handed out a season high 19 assists. They also caused 16 steals and blocked 10 shots.

Prior to the game, the newly renovated Amherst South gymnasium court was renamed the Bob Hettler Court. The entire Hettler family was in attendance.

Mr. Hettler, who died in July 2006, amassed a 514-113 record as coach of the Tigers’ varsity boys basketball team from 1940 to 1977. He was the first coach in the state to win more than 500 games. His teams won 23 league championships and five sectional titles.

Mr. Hettler had been inducted into multiple Halls of Fame, including Greater Buffalo Sports, New York State Basketball and Amherst High School Athletic.

“It was nice to hear stories about him as a coach, his philosophy and to hear former players talk about him,” said Kensy. “It was truly an honor to be part of it.”

The dedication ceremony was organized by the Amherst Central Alumni Foundation.

The lead in the East Aurora game seesawed back and forth. Amherst led, 14-9, after the first quarter and East Aurora went into halftime ahead, 25-24, but the Tigers regained the lead, 41-40, by the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter saw six lead changes. Joe Pittari (nine points, six rebounds, took two charges) tied the game at 51-51 with 20 seconds remaining.

On East Aurora’s next possession, the Amherst defense forced them into a bad shot and the ball rebounded off the backboard, off one of the Amherst players’ hands and into the hands of Ryan Sweet, who scored a putback basket with two seconds remaining. Sweet finished with a game-high 20 points.

Amherst’s Jack Yanity (12 points, three rebounds) heaved a desperation shot that hit the front of the rim as time expired.

“It definitely hurt,” said Kensy. “We had one of our best weeks of practices. We outplayed them. I truly felt we deserved to win, but that’s the way the ball bounces.”

“The passion my kids had, not only on the floor but on the bench, was incredible,” said Kensy. “They are so supportive of each other. As a coach, it’s really nice to see.”

McLean led Amherst with 13 points, five steals, three assists and six deflections. Adam Dannenhofer added seven points and seven rebounds.

Amherst (2-1, 1-1) played at Depew Tuesday, but the result was unavailable before The Bee went to press.

e-mail: pnagy@beenews.com

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