ALLEGANY — With a rivalry renewed in a league setting, the Allegany-Limestone boys basketball team announced itself as ready to compete with the perennial power in its neighboring district.
The Gators claimed their first win over Olean High in a decade on Friday by winning 47-43 on their home court in the first of two CCAA West I matchups on the schedule. A-L hasn’t played in the same regular season league as Olean since 2012-13, and had not beaten the Huskies since a 68-55 win in the first of two meetings in 2008-09, Mike Ruether’s last season as head coach.
The matchup drew a huge crowd to ALCS, filling up most of the bleachers. Both schools had loud student sections on opposing ends of the bleachers, so much so that the public address announcer asked both to sit down so other fans could see from behind them.
“I think they loved it,” Gators coach Glenn Anderson said of his team’s reaction to the atmosphere. “We walked out and the buzzer went for the anthem and introductions and all that stuff and the crowd was going nuts and they all walked over with huge smiles on their faces. That’s what you want in a high school basketball game, those crowds like that.
“When we were back in a league with Olean previously, games were like that. I remember watching a YouTube video from one of my first years and the stands are just packed and it was loud. The same thing, we couldn’t communicate sets and stuff like that. But that’s an awesome atmosphere to play.”
The win, Anderson’s first over Olean as varsity coach, pushed A-L (8-2) to 3-0 in its new league and extended a four-game win streak. Anderson said he’s glad to have the rivalry back on in the West I division.
“Everybody knowing everybody else plays into it,” Anderson said of the rivalry. “I think we had the same thing with Portville there for a couple years. Everyone knew everyone and that was the game everyone was always juiced up for. But I’m glad this rivalry’s back. It’s a lot of fun to play in an atmosphere like that.”
First-year Olean coach Tim Kolasinski said he could see the crowd building during the JV game. His team came out hot, leading 19-11 after the first, but went cold on offense for much of the rest of the game.
“I could see the crowd that was mounting at the JV game and we knew what it was going to be for the varsity and we talked about it before the game,” he said. “The guys were excited. Obviously it’s more fun when you come out on the winning side but either way that’s a great environment and either way, if you can play a game in that environment, it’s outstanding.
The Huskies fell to 1-2 in the league (6-5 overall) with the narrow loss. They’ll get their chance at revenge on Monday night, Feb. 3, in Olean.