The Post-Journal

Heary Explodes For Record 62 Points In Loss To Traditional

Joe Cardinal has seen his share of offensive explosions during his tenure as the Buffalo Traditional basketball coach.

But Cardinal, who has watched such players as Ritchie Campbell, Marcus Whitfield, Curtis Aiken and his own Nate Gainey rack up huge numbers in Yale Cup games in the 1980s, admitted that what he witnessed Thursday night was something "unbelievable."

"You say how can one ballplayer beat you?" Cardinal asked.

Michael Heary almost found a way.

In a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in Western New York history, the 6-foot-5 Fredonia Central School senior poured in 62 points on 21 of 34 from the floor and 15 of 19 from the free throw line before fouling out with 55 seconds remaining in overtime.

"I've never seen anyone do that," Cardinal said. "I've seen kids get 70 points, but never quality points. We had people hanging on him all night."

In the end, however, Cardinal's one-two sophomore punch of point guard Jason Rowe (35 points and a school record 19 assists) and forward Damien Foster (30 points) was too much for the Hillbillies (1-2) to handle and the Bulls (2-1), who had five players in double figures, came away with a thrilling 110-106 overtime victory.

Rowe and Foster combined for 11 of the Bulls' 13 points in the extra period, which was just enough to hold off Fredonia in a classic non-league contest.

"That was one of those games that nobody deserved to lose," Cardinal said.

Still, the night belonged to Heary, scoring 13 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second, 12 in the third, 23 in the fourth and two in the overtime before fouling out.

"I've never seen an offensive performance like that from anybody in my days of coaching high school basketball," Fredonla coach Dave Polechetti said.

In the process, Heary set Chautauqua County single-game and career scoring records. He now has 1,486 career points, putting him ahead of Larry Erick's 1,457 on the all-time county list. And his 62 points breaks the single-game mark of 56, set by Paul Bretz of Ripley in 1991.

"It feels good, but we lost," said Heary, whose previous single-game high of 42 came against Traditional last year. "I've said it all along, I'd take no points in the first three games and be 3-0."

But this loss is hardly demoralizing for the Hillbillies. A lesser team might have folded against the Bulls, who used superior size to create mismatches underneath.

And just when it looked like the Bulls were in command, the Hillbillies came roaring back. Mike Haight (17 points) converted a layup with three seconds remaining in regulation on a feed from Mike Spacc to tie the game, 97-97, capping a furious fourth quarter that saw Fredonia score 34 points (23 by Heary) and Traditional 31 (Rowe and Foster combined for 19).

In the extra period, however, Rowe hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring and the Hillbillies, who lost Heary to fouls with just under a minute remaining, got no closer than a point the rest of the way.

"Our kids hung in there, even in overtime," Polechetti said. We were only seven seconds away, and a turnover, a steal and a basket from tying it up and going into double overtime."

Haight's 3-point bomb closed the margin to 108-106 with seven seconds remaining but Tradition ended any hopes of a storybook ending for Fredonia by sinking two free throws following an intentional foul.

"They understand the game, they're seasoned, nothing rattles them," Cardinal said of Foster and Rowe, who combined for 45 second-half points. "You put them on the foul line in that situation and they're going to make it."

Polechetti acknowledged Rowe as an "outstanding talent," but admitted that the 6-3 Foster was "probably the I man that we couldn't deal with."

Faced with a lineup that also included 6-5 Adrian Baugh (10 points) and 6-4 LaVar Frasier (21 points), the Hillbillies had severe, matchup problems.

Still, it almost didn't matter, considering how hot Heary was. In fact, the fans appreciated his effort so much that many of them raced over to congratulate him immediately after the final buzzer.

"The opposing fans came rushing over to him before they went over to their own home team," Polechetti said incredulously. "I don't think I've ever seen that before."

It was that kind of night.

Of course, it's possible that Foster may have unknowingly fueled Heary's competitive fires in a pregame interview with a Buffalo-area cable television network. According to Heary, Foster predicted that the Bulls wouldn't allow him to equal his 42-point effort of last season.

"They asked me what I thought of that and I said, 'We'll find out soon enough.'

"I think they respect me now. I hope they do."

NOTES: Damone White had 14 points off the bench for the Bulls while Ryan LaMattina added 13 for Fredonia, all in the second half...Both Fredonia and Traditional have lost to St. Joe's this season and, in both instances, the margin was four points...In his two previous games this season, Heary scored 39 and 27 points...The Fredonia record for points in a game had been 45 set by Jim Edgerton in the mid-1970s.

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