SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — Fresh off his 500th win, CBA boys basketball coach Buddy Wleklinski will have a front row seat when his colleague, Bob McKenney, goes for his 600th win on Tuesday, as CBA hosts Bishop Grimes for NewsChannel 9’s game of the week.
Over 1,000 wins, 17 section titles, 6 state titles, and one lifelong friendship. That’s the combined resume of Central New York basketball coaching legends Bob McKenney and Buddy Wleklinski, but the two friends will become enemies for a couple hours on Tuesday.
“It’s an honor to be on the court with him,” Bishop Grimes boys basketball head coach Bob McKenney said. “We hate each other for an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes a couple times a year, and the rest of the time we are good friends.”
“In order for there to be a rivalry, there’s got to be a mutual respect, and I think there is one,” CBA boys basketball coach Buddy Wleklinski said. “I like Bob, we’ve become friends over the years. When we play… you certainly want to beat them, we want to get the best of them, but after it’s over, you hug, and you go out and you have something to drink.”
There could be even more reason to celebrate after Tuesday’s game for Coach McKenney, as he will be going for his Section III leading, 600th career victory.
“I’ve just been blessed to have great people around me and I’ve had a lot of great players,” McKenney said. “I’m more concerned with us getting better right now than getting that win, that 600th win. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.”
Anthony Falgiatano, a Bishop Grimes senior, said, “We’ve been talking about it a lot, we really want to get him his 600th, and get everyone past that, and then worry about winning sectionals. It’s a drive to make sure that happens.”
Buddy became the 7th coach in section III history to win 500 games this past Saturday, when CBA defeated Solvay 67-47, and unlike McKenney, Buddy has gotten all of his wins at one school.
“CBA is a great place to be,” Wleklinski said. “Great administrative support, great parental support, we’ve got great kids, so it makes it all worthwhile. For me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about my family, my wife and my daughter. You spend a lot of hours, over 36 years, when you play eight or 900 games, that’s a lot of time away from home, along with the practices. So they’ve been very patient, very supportive, and without them it wouldn’t even have been possible.”
McKenney and Wleklinski have over 1,000 combined wins, but they’ve done it with very different styles.
“What’s fun with Buddy and I, is one of us is trying to pace it down a little bit, and I’m trying to pace it up,” McKenney said.
Wleklinski said, “Last year when we played them we were up most of the game, and finally they just wore us down. The tempo got us playing fast, a couple turnovers near the end, and all of the sudden we were down four or five. So, we just got to limit the turnovers, and hope that we can keep the tempo at a reasonable pace.”
CBA will have their hands full on defense, as Grimes has four different players averaging ten or more points this season.
“We just got to play good help defense, know the shooters, get out on them, and play good team defense and don’t let anyone take over the game,” CBA senior Dan Anderson said.
For Bishop Grimes, they are more concerned about CBA’s three-point ability, as the Brothers have made at least seven threes in every game this year.
“We’ve realized we have to do a better job of defending the three,” McKenney said. “The teams that have shot the three well have been bothersome for us.”
The Cobras will hope to get Coach McKenney his historic 600th win on Tuesday while the Brothers will try for their fifth win in six games.
The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. from CBA and can be live streamed on NewsChannel 9’s website or the mobile app.
For more local sports, follow Anthony Scott on Twitter @A_scott17
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