Jamestown ratcheted up the defense against the defending champions to reclaim the Section VI Class AA championship.
The Red Raiders’ zone defense flummoxed Niagara Falls on Saturday night, leading to a 46-39 win in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 at Buffalo State.
Jamestown has now won three Class AA titles in the last four years, with their lone loss coming a year ago against Niagara Falls.
“We’ve been waiting for this night for a year,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said. “We felt like we let one slip away and tonight was some redemption because most of the guys on this team were playing last year.”
Sophomore forward Stephen Carlson led the top-seeded Red Raiders (19-2) with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Tommy Campion also scored 13 points and led a patient offense that turned the ball over just eight times against the Falls’ relentless pressure defense. Zack Panebianco, another sophomore, scored 12 points.
“When we lost to the Falls last year, we knew we wanted a rematch this year and we knew we would get it,” Campion said.
No. 2 seed Niagara Falls (17-4) jumped out to a 15-11 lead after the first quarter, going 5 of 8 from three-point range in the opening frame.
“Those threes were fool’s gold,” Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino said.
Unable to find driving lanes or get the ball into the post, the Wolverines kept firing from long range, but stopped connecting. They finished 8 of 21 from beyond the arc and only made four two-point baskets on the night. They went without a field goal for the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter and finished with 17 turnovers.
“We haven’t played a 2-3 zone in years,” Drake said. “We’ve been playing with it in practice but over the playoff run, we’ve been saving it for tonight. It was one of those things we thought maybe they wouldn’t be expecting it.”
Crumpton, who is headed to Canisius College next year, led Niagara Falls with 15 points. Steffon Caffee scored 10.
Jamestown will face the Section V class champion in the Far West Regionals next Saturday in Rochester.