OLEAN, NY — The last time the two teams met, the Allegany-Limestone boys basketball team squeaked by with a four-point win at home over Olean.
For the first half of Monday night’s rematch at Olean High School, it looked like a similar result was imminent.
Efficient shooting led the Gators to a 37-31 lead over the Huskies at halftime.
Then came the third quarter. That’s when Covi James took over.
The senior guard scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, as Olean (11-6) used a 17-0 third-quarter run to beat A-L (13-4), 69-53.
“(James) has been a leader for us all season long,” Olean coach Tim Kolasinski said. “He was really excited for this, being a rivalry game. He told me he felt that he would have a lot of opportunities to drive to the basket tonight, and he did.”
Olean’s run, which started midway through the third quarter and lasted for nearly six minutes of game time, culminated when James completed a three-point play after being fouled on a drive to the basket.
His free throw after the bucket gave the Huskies their first lead of the game.
A three-pointer by Jason Brooks on the following Olean possession made it a four-point game, and sent the packed gym into a frenzy.
Olean would outscore A-L 21-7 in the third quarter.
“We don’t usually play zone defense, but that was the big shift that we made in the second half,” Kolasinski said. “It really slowed them down, and it allowed us to push the pace and get some easy baskets on offense.”
Brooks finished with 20 points, while Dan Klein racked up 14 points for the Huskies.
A-L was led by Michael Wolfgang, who scored 15 of his 16 points in the first half, and Ben Giardini, who also finished with 16 points.
Gus Napoleon added 13 points for the Gators.
“I’ve thought that throughout the season, we’ve had talent, but it’s been the experience piece that we’ve been missing,” Kolasinski said. “For us to go into this rivalry game and finish the game in front of a packed gym was huge for us.”
Both teams will be back in action on Friday night, as Olean will host Dunkirk, while A-L hosts Southwestern.
Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox.