OLEAN, NY — Students, school administrators and community members gathered outside the front of Big Lots in the plaza at North Union and Wayne streets Thursday to give a rousing sendoff to the Olean High School basketball team as it left to prepare for a Friday morning matchup against Glens Falls in the state semi-final game.
“It means everything. Everyone loves to come out and give their support for our community,” Olean community member Brenda Forrester said.
The honking from passing cars and music by the school's pep band kept the plaza lively as the group awaited the Huskies' arrival on a charter but to a cheering community.
“It’s a great feeling to know we have such a great support system,” Olean senior guard Alex Weakfall said.
Players socialized and took pictures with family, friends and community members before departing for the seventh New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Final Four in school history.
The Huskies are Class B’s top-ranked team and are set to play the second-ranked Indians on Friday in Binghamton at the Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena. The game will be the second meeting between the two teams in the state playoffs; the first came during Olean’s first visit to the Final Four in 2003.
About 75 people, including Olean Mayor William J. Aiello and Superintendent of Schools Rick Moore, were in attendance to talk with the community and give their support to the Huskies.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Moore said. “It means a lot for them to bring everyone together and create this environment.”
Because of the 9:30 a.m. tip, the game has been labeled “Breakfast in Binghamton” by community members. Student fans won’t have to worry about missing school to make the trip because the school district canceled Friday's classes in hopes of getting as many fans possible in Binghamton.
“We have the best city and the best support,” Huskies head coach Jeff Anastasia said. “We’re going to try to win this for you guys.”
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