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Cadets defend the fortress

By: Nick Carbone

HILTON, N.Y. – The Hilton Cadets’ boys basketball team came out on top against the Greece Arcadia Titans knocking them out of sectionals. Tensions were high with this being the first round of sectionals and both teams came out blazing with aggression and big plays. The Cadets showed more dominance and came out with the 81-60 win.

The first quarter set the tone thanks to Cadets forward Ben Sneddon. An absolute monster in the first with 14 points which included a dunk on the Cadets' second possesion of the game. The Cadets forced more steals that gave them the advantage through and through and because of this, the Titans were in a full court press with five minutes left in the first.

Ben Sneddon (#32) on a breakaway dunk. Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

Starting the second quarter in order to stay consistent with being the more dominant team, Hilton guard Johnny Bianchi kept the team at a faster pace. Because of this, we saw flashy passes to his fellow guards Timmy Graziano and Brady Gerig.

"I've worked on those in practice so it's definitely not out of the ordinary," Bianchi said. "I try not to do it too much, but if I see it as a viable option I'm gonna use it."

Throughout the quarter, there were more plays in the paint and more drawn fouls from forward Sneddon and forward Andrew "Dewey" Lenhard. But with the Cadets' fast-paced gameplay came opportunities for the Titans to strike. Big plays were made by guard Drake Sapp and center/forward Xavier Smith in the paint to help the team catch up to the Cadets. Showing his true aggression, Smith was given two charging fouls in the second quarter. At the end of the half it was 35-27.

Andrew Lenhard (#5) taking the charge from Xavier Smith (#5). Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point)

To start the third quarter, Graziano set the tone and came out blazing with a three-pointer. Hilton continued being powerful in the paint with the guards consistently passing the ball to Sneddon. He turned several inside chances into and-ones. Arcadia also came back with multiple big three-pointers from guard Lincoln Fling. Meanwhile, Smith maneuvers the paint without drawing that charging call.

Drake Sapp (#24) taking the ball out in front on Johnny Bianchi (#0). Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

While still being up starting the fourth quarter, the Cadets didn't slow down. Sapp took advantage and got a steal to make a play in the paint. Shortly after, Graziano hit a deep three-pointer. As a response Xavier moved past three Cadets for a big jumper. Throughout the rest of the quarter, the Cadets continued to feed the ball to Sneddon and be aggressive overall.

Ben Sneddon (#32) driving the lane with Xavier Smith (#5). (Photo Credits: Liam Hoffman, 89.1 The Point)

"It felt great that my guards trust me with the ball and when they started double teaming me, I can pass to them for the three-point shot," said Sneddon.

Even with the Cadets' good defensive efforts, steals are not the main priority for them.

"Well we don't really work on going for steals," said Cadets head coach Troy Prince. "I think we're the beneficiary of some maybe inexperience on their side."

Coach Al Nash just finished his first season with the Titans.

"New program, trying to build a culture, and having these guys learn what it takes to be competitive," said Nash. "I'm very proud of the effort, and we're getting better. But, it's kinda sad that it's come to an end."

The Hilton Cadets advance to the next round of sectionals and will go on to host the Victor Blue Devils on Feb. 24 at 6:00 p.m.

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