North Tonawanda opened its Niagara Frontier League season in style.
The Lumberjacks defeated Niagara Falls for just the third time since 2000, thanks in large part to a 17-2 first quarter that it rode to a 51-34 road victory.
“We came out with more energy, more of an edge, and we were able to take advantage of their full court pressure,” said NT coach Ryan Mountain. “Before they knew it they were down, 17-2, after one and they never really recovered.”
Since Niagara Falls combined its two high schools into one in 2000, North Tonawanda had only beaten Falls (0-3) twice, both in 2009-10 when it swept the Wolverines and shared the league title.
Junior Chris Woodard had 15 points, 13 rebounds and five steals for NT (3-1), senior Joe Piotrowski had two three-pointers among his 14 points, senior Michael Awad had eight points and 10 rebounds and junior Nehemiah Stone had nine points. NT had 19 steals.
“Stone did a great job attacking,” said Mountain. “Joe Piotrowski hit some big shots in special moments.”
Mountain’s team nearly knocked off eventual Class AA finalist Falls in last year’s sectional quarterfinals after leading at halftime by one.
“We accept reality,” he said. “We know they’re a young program. They’re similar to what we were a year ago. We’ll enjoy the victory, but as we got on the bus we learned that Ken West had won by 40, so we’ll head back to work.”
NT plays Kenmore West – which beat Niagara-Wheatfield, 92-52 Tuesday – on Friday.
Clarence edges North
Senior Ryan Funk went 3 for 3 at the foul line with three seconds left to lead Clarence to a ECIC I-opening, 70-68 victory at Williamsville North.
With Clarence down one in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Funk was fouled attempting a three-pointer.
“When he came off the double-screen, they were waiting for him, and they fouled him on the shot,” said Clarence coach Todd Banaszak. “I knew he was going to make them. Ryan doesn’t get emotional. Ryan wants the ball.”
Funk had 27 points to help Clarence (3-0) overcome a 32-point night by North senior two-time All-Western New York first teamer Sterling Taplin.
Clarence went up 34-25 at half before Taplin led a 28-16 surge by North (0-2) in the third.
“We knew Taplin was going to come out and want to take the game over, then he had six or eight points in a row in the third,” said Banaszak. “We struggled against their zone, then we figured it out. Then it was back-and-forth: It was a game where whoever shot the ball last was going to win.”
1,000 for Haight
Jake Haight became the third 1,000-point scorer in Barker history, scoring 21 points as the Raiders cruised past Elba of Section V, 77-46.
Haight, who now has 1,018 career points, is third behind all-time leading scorer Bill Beilein (now the coach of Niagara County Community College) and Ray Paul Jr. on the school’s all-time list.
“It was nice that Jake did it with the seniors that have played with him for all those years by his side,” Barker coach Dave Carson said of the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder who was named first-team All-Western New York in football last week. “His whole family was here — it was a nice moment in Barker history.”
Senior Mitch Luckman added 14 points for Barker (2-0) and senior Bryce Moeller had 12.
Canisius starts strong
Canisius got its season started with a big win … that started with a big basket.
An alley-oop for a slam dunk from Howard Washington to fellow sophomore Stafford Trueheart got a new-look Canisius team started on a 66-35 home rout of Williamsville South.
“It was in the first minute,” said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. “We missed our first few shots, then called a little set, and we couldn’t have drawn it up any better. We definitely fed off that for a couple of minutes.”
The Crusaders, who finished tied for the No. 1 large school spot last year, return one starter in Ryan Richards (six points). Junior LaTerrance Reed led Canisius with 18 points.
• Wil Bathurst had 16 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter while he also had eight assists as Olean (3-0) broke away from Bishop Timon-St. Jude (2-2) in the second half of a 72-66 win.
• Sophomore Annie Hamilton tied a school record with seven three-pointers as St. Mary’s (2-2) beat Park, 53-46, in girls basketball.
• New coach Karen Catalano and the Lockport girls win their opener, 52-46, over Niagara-Wheatfield (0-2).
• This week’s PrepTalkTV episode at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at BuffaloNews.com will feature a visit from Canisius basketball’s Husband, Washington and Ryan Richards. In Keith McShea’s live chat afterwards, he’ll answer questions about the All-Western New York football team.