Saturday's win at Blue Cross Arena by Byron-Bergen over Alexander was more than the Bees claiming the Class C2 title.
It was also history.
It was the school's first Section V championship in boys' basketball. The last basketball title for the Bees came 40 years ago for the girls, and Roxanne Noeth, this year's boys coach, was a star on that girls team, so Noeth has the distinction of being the only person with a piece of both of Byron-Bergen's basketball titles.
And as far as any school official knows, any Section V official knows, and by consensus of all the media covering the game -- Noeth is also the first woman in Section V history to coach a boys' team to a championship title.
One Section V official said there have been other women coaches in Boys Basketball but he doesn't believe any of them ever won a championship.
Being the first woman coach to win a boys' title is "cool," Noeth said.
"But I'm just excited for my alma mater, Byron-Bergen, because I know a lot of great players have played here and they've never achieved this level of success. I just think it's really super cool."
About wining the first boys title, she added, "It's pretty incredible. Like, no doubt, pretty incredible. I don't know. Like I said, I graduated from there. I know a lot of great players that have played there, including Ricky Palermo sitting there and his brother Jimmy. It's just, it's just amazing. Like, it's surreal."
Palermo was excited to see his former team win its first championship, and led by his friend, Roxanne.
"This is just amazing," Palermo said. "There are a lot of years that we came within one point to getting this far, and now we made it. It's just incredible to be part of this. They worked hard all year, and it paid off. Roxanne does a great job."
A big part of the credit for the championship should also go to Braedyn Chambry, who dominated not just on Saturday, but throughout the season, and in the process, becoming the school's career scoring leader.
He was excited to be part of the historic moment.
"Just winning sectionals alone is really awesome because we're going to be remembered forever at the school as the first team ever to do it, but also, we have the first girl coach ever to do it. It means so much, especially with our team. We've been a family since third grade, working together as a family to get here. It means so much more to win with people you love."
Many of the players on the Bees are also the same athletes who carried Byron-Bergen to a shot at a state championship in soccer this fall, including Chambry.
Noeth said that success taught her players that they could persevere.
"They've got that winning attitude," Noeth said. "They knew that if they got down throughout their soccer season, that there's just no quit in them. They were always gonna go as hard as they could. They were gonna play for each other. And they were just gonna do all the things if they had to, whatever it took to make sure they came out on top. So really proud of them in that respect."
Chambry said there is s a core group of athletes in Byron-Bergen who have been together since they were children, and they know they can count on each other.
"No matter what we do, we're doing it together, in sports or out of sports, our little group, we love each other, we take care of each other," Chambry said. "We work hard with each other. We sweat with each other, and we want to win together. It's all that matters to us."
Alexander Head Coach Jalen Smith
The other storyline of the game was the return of Jalen Smith to Blue Cross Arena. Smith led the Batavia Blue Devils in 2013 to a Section V title by scoring 25 points at Blue Cross, then was part of the team with Justin Washington and Jeff Redband, who was a first-year varsity player, that won a Far West Regional game on a Redband buzzer beater in the same venue, giving the Blue Devils a shot at a state title. Batavia lost to Watervliet, led by two D1 recruits at guard, in the state semifinal in Glens Falls, 60-53.
This year, Smith made his high school head coach debut with the Alexander Trojans, taking over a program that had been 6-14 last season and leading it to a 19-5 record and sectional title shot this season.
"It was something we honestly talked about in the summer and the hope that we can maybe get here," Smith said. "It was really just unbelievable to see this group get to Blue Cross. I've been talking to them all week about my experiences here. The wins and the losses that come with it, how hard you really have to play to win one of these games. I think they really answered the call. And I just think we came up short a little bit in some areas."
Smith said he was well aware of the Trojans' past struggles when he agreed to take the job, but he knew the talent on the team and thought he could win with the players already on the roster.
"When we took over this program, I knew what came with it," Smith said. "I knew some of the players from the summer and spring ball. And actually, we had these expectations early. We bring energy. We really try to bring the best out to each player. And we knew we had size. We knew we had athleticism and scoring, so we knew we really had a chance with this group."
Smith played for one of Section V's most legendary coaches, and as a JV coach was for a time part of Buddy Brasky's program at BHS as a coach, and he said Brasky has been a huge influence on him.
"Everything you see that I do is basically Buddy Brasky from the defense to my mannerisms, that passion," Smith said. "It's funny because I get the quote that I'm like a younger Brasky. I take everything from him. That's someone I've always looked up to and someone who I will continue to learn from."
Noeth praised Smith's success in turning around the Alexander program and said she knew going into the game, the two teams were mirror versions of each other.
"We both have a dominant big man," Noeth said. "We have good guard play. I knew their guards were a little more scoring-oriented than ours, but we just had to play one possession. We just got to beat them on one possession, and then we're all right. So, I mean, even when we give up a lead, and we go down, (the team) just never loses faith. And that's what you want."
Smith said he coaches Chambly in summer league and thought he had a good game plan to slow him down, but he's hard to beat.
"I we knew what he was going to bring," Smith said. "We had a good answer for him. It's just he won the matchup today. So, I give him credit."
Chambry scored 24 points for the Bees. Colin Martin scored 14 points. Brody Baubie and Brendan Pimm each scored six points.
For the Trojans, Kingston Woods scored 22 points, and Trenton Woods scored 12.
Photos by Jennifer DiQuattro.