Thursday night at Williamsville South was a great chance to see two of the best boys basketball players in the ECIC -- from one of the shortest to one of the tallest.
Five-foot-3 sophomore point guard Mark Coppola and his Williamsville South teammates used outstanding passing and three-point shooting (eight in the first half) to beat Hamburg and 6-9 senior Blake McLimans, 76-61. Both Coppola and McLimans stood out for doing the big things -- and the little things -- for their teams.
Coppola scored 17 points and had two three-pointers while doing his usual orchestration of the offense, hitting several of his teammates for threes (Joe Licata had five and Phil Stasiak had three -- they're both freshmen). Coppola is extremely quick and capable with the dribble and the right-hander can drive with either hand. Early in the fourth quarter he extended a possession twice by fighting for offensive rebounds, then hit a driving left-handed bank shot over a Hamburg big man. He also had some break-starting steals and drew a charge.
Although South proved too much for Hamburg, McLimans was very impressive. He showed poise in the pivot and touch around the basket, swished good-looking medium-range jump shots and even hit two threes in compiling 27 points. He blocked several shots and altered several others, was consistently aggressive (one of South's big men fouled out and another had four fouls early in the fourth quarter) and set very solid screens.
Both players are also extremely competitive, which showed when Coppola boxed out McLimans in the opening minutes of the game and the two battled back and forth as if they were both 6-3.
The eyebrow-raising score from the night is East Aurora's 61-56 home win over Lackawanna in ECIC IV. Meanwhile, Depew kept cruising in ECIC III by beating Maryvale. Read more about those games in Friday's Buffalo News and check out all of Thursday's scores and statistics here.
-- Keith McShea