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Pine Valley’s Miles Volk rises for a shot over Avoca/Prattsburgh’s Colin Zurlick in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D Far West Regional at Buffalo State Sports Arena on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Steve Garvey

BUFFALO — Avoca-Prattsburgh entered the Class D Far West Regional with a basketball resume that included back-to-back New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in 2022 and 2023.

For the first half of Saturday’s game against Pine Valley at the Buffalo State Sports Arena, however, another trip to the final four in Glens Falls appeared to be no guarantee for the Section V school.

And then, well, the Titans took care of business.

Leading 30-27 at the break, Avoca-Prattsburgh outscored the Panthers 45-20 the rest of the way to roll to a 75-47 victory.

The win advances the Titans (14-9) into the state semifinals at 10:45 p.m. next Saturday against the Section X Harrisville-Section III Sackets Harbor winner at Cool Insuring Arena.

Pine Valley’s Jon Sheldon lines up a shot in front of Avoca/Prattsburgh’s Colin Zurlick in the NYSPHSAA Class D Far West Regional at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Steve Garvey

Pine Valley, meanwhile, ends its season 11-12.

Until the decisive second half, the first half was a tale of two totally different quarters.

Sparked by eight points apiece from Jaeden Crowder and Daniel Stilson, Avoca-Prattsburgh led 20-5 after the first period, a margin that grew to 24-6 early in the second.

Then, Pine Valley caught fire, specifically Miles Volk, who scored 13 points during a 21-6 surge that was fueled by a dozen Titans’ turnovers. Only eight more points from Crowder kept the Panthers from taking a lead into the locker room.

“I’ve been saying all week, ‘We can beat this team,’” Pine Valley coach Bobby Slisz said. “I know they’re the two-time defending state champs, I know they’re the third-ranked team in the state, you are as talented as they are if we execute.’ At times, they showed it. … Just too many mistakes.”

After the break, the game stayed reasonably close — in fact, Avoca-Prattsburgh led only 45-40 closing in on three minutes remaining in the third period — but the Titans finished on a 14-0 run to essentially put the outcome out of reach.

“Our calling card is our pressure defense,” Slisz said. “When we play good on-ball defense it creates turnovers on the back end. … When we did that we forced a lot of turnovers. The biggest problem was when that went away, all of a sudden they were getting to the cup, Jon Sheldon gets in foul trouble and we can’t get to the basket.”

Leading the way for Avoca-Prattsburgh was Crowder with 21 points, Stilson with 18 and Macoy Putnam and Christopher Abbott with 15 apiece.

Pacing Pine Valley was Volk, who finished with 25.

“He’s been a joy to coach,” Slisz said. “He’s been on varsity for three years. He’s physically just so tough. … He really just scores in bunches.”

AVOCA-PRATTSBURGH (75)

White 0 0 0, Crowder 9 2 21, Putnam 4 7 15, Button 0 0 0, Heale 0 0 0, Zurlick 2 0 4, Abbott 5 3 15, Swift 0 0 0, Parulski 0 0 0, Stilson 7 4 18, Hammond 1 0 2, Totals 28 16 75.

PINE VALLEY (47)

Slade 1 0 2, Ivett 1 1 3, JaSheldon 2 0 5, Meurant 0 0 0, Seabolt 2 0 4, JoSheldon 3 0 8, Volk 11 3 25, Jackson 0 0 0, Totals 20 4 47.

3-point goals — Crowder, Abbott 2, JaSheldon, JoSheldon 2.

Avoca-Prattsburgh 20 10 28 17 — 75

Pine Valley 5 22 13 7 — 47


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