MANLIUS — Seneca coach Russell Witte told Conlan Callahan he had to come to play Friday night for the regional championship. Seneca’s senior guard lived up to his coach’s directions well.
With the game tied at 50, Callahan drove and dished off to Irish teammate Chris Lee, who scored with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift the Irish to a 52-50 victory over the St. Bede Bruins.
“I saw eight seconds on the clock, I knew we were in spread, I saw an open lane, and I knew I could drive and they’d help and I knew Chris would be there and he’d be ready for the pass and he laid it in. And man it was awesome,” said Callahan, who led the Irish with 18 points.
The game didn’t end without some controversy. St. Bede inbounded the ball over halfcourt quickly and called a timeout with 1.8 seconds left. From there, Grant Bosnich attempted a cross-court pass to Brad Groleau, but the pass was knocked down as time ran out.
St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin thought Groleau was knocked down, too, and pleaded for a foul call to no avail. He acknowledged the Bruins missed their share of plays and assignments, but said the officials missed that one.
“It’s sad it comes down to one no-call,” he said, asking reporters if they believed it was a foul or not. “As an official, you can’t not call it. ... One official kept saying take a look at a tape. We’ll, if I’m wrong I’m wrong but I don’t think so.”
Witte didn’t see it that way.
“I know Groleau got knocked down, but we had the inside position there. They can say what they will. You got to let the players make the play,” he said.
The Irish (25-4), who advance to the Byron Sectional to face Sterling Newman (25-4) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, are right where they wanted to be, Witte said.
“They set some goals. They wanted to win 25 games, they wanted to be regional champs and it just so happened to be on the same night,” he said.
The Bruins (23-6) erased a 30-25 halftime deficit with some hot third-quarter shooting, especially from Brad Groleau (11 points). The southpaw shooter knocked down three treys in a 16-7 Bruin run, including two straight to give the Bruins a 41-37 lead with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Sam Lucas added a putback and a trey in the St. Bede surge.
Joe Pyszka, who started the run with a right-handed hook, went to the port side to maintain a four-point Bruin lead at 43-39. He led the Bruins with 18 points.
"Pyszka’s a ton, and unless you have a 6-7, 270 pound guy to go with him, it was ever bit we could do to just push him and shove him out of there. They let them play a little bit, they kind of tightened things up a little bit.”
The Irish tied the game at 43 at quarter’s end, but the Bruins opened the fourth quarter with a hoop by Lucas and a trey by DePue’s Grant Bosnich to take a 48-43 lead with 4:50 left to play. the Bruins took a 50-47 lead on Pyszka’s baseline pop with 22.8.
Callahan tied the game at 50 with a trey at the 1:52 mark, then dished to Lee for the game-winner.
“Conlon just happened to make a great play and Chris made a great catch and finish,” Witte said.
The Irish coach said the Storm Cellar has become a pleasant stop for the Irish, now 4-0 in his tenure and 6-0 overall, including the Irish’s stop for sectionals on the way to the 2006 State crown
• A trio of local shooters — Hall’s Brett Fanning (9 of 15), Princeton’s Zach Hicks (9) and St. Bede’s Grant Bosnich — advanced in the Three-Point Showdown.