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It was a battle of top 10 large schools that did not disappoint.

McKinley and Williamsville North put forth a tremendous offensive display in the first half before the Macks did what they have done to many teams, wearing the Spartans down for an 81-73 victory inside its packed gymnasium.

McKinley (5-1), ranked sixth among large schools in this week’s Buffalo News poll, had five scorers in double figures as it used a 15-9 third quarter and a 20-15 fourth to beat No. 6 North (5-3).

Both teams put on an entertaining display in the first half, with North taking a 28-26 lead after one quarter and a 49-46 lead at the half behind two-time All-Western New York selection Sterling Taplin. Taplin had 19 of his 23 points in the first half, but McKinley, the defending New York State High School Athletic Association Class A champions, swarmed him in the second half, double-teaming him whether or not he had the ball. Sophomore Maceo Jack had 21 points for North.

“We’re a young team so it’s a work in progress, but I thought the guys stepped up,” said McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey. “We were trying to keep the ball out of the best player’s hands, make someone else bring the ball up – we didn’t want to give him any daylight.”

Sophomore Jaylen Prophet had four three-pointers and 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter for McKinley. In the second half, senior Varin Lenard scored 11 of his 13. Also in double figures among the seven Macks who scored were Devin Morris (18), D’Andre Stewart (11) and Dante Thompson (10).

“We came out and grabbed boards, and 50-50 balls, we fought and played hard for four quarters,” said Lenard. “Even though we lost five or six seniors from last year, we still come out to practice every day and work hard and we’ll try to make it back again, like last year.”

Timon hangs tough

Junior forward Derick Simpson scored a game-high 26 points and pulled down 16 rebounds as Bishop Timon-St. Jude, the No. 4 large school in The News poll, pulled out a 63-55 victory over Nichols, the No. 4 small school.

“It was a physical game,” Timon coach Joe Mihalics said. “It’s always difficult to shoot there.”

Freshman point guard William Lamar provided toughness for the Tigers (6-4, 3-1) to go along with six assists.

“Lamar and Simpson brought the toughness that we need from all our guys,” Mihalics said. “We’re growing as a team.”

Nichols was led by 20 points from Cameron Lewis.

“They wouldn’t go away,” Mihalics said. “We were able to rebound and limit them to one shot.”

Timon’s leading scorer, Donte Williams, who entered the game averaging 23 points per game, finished with 15.

Lockport takes down Niagara Falls

In another matchup of high-profile programs, Lockport jumped out to a 19-9 lead over Niagara Falls in a big Niagara Frontier League game on the way to a 55-43 road win.

“The first quarter was the difference maker,” said Lions coach David Gilson.

Senior Moziah Townsend led Lockport (5-3, 4-1) with 17 points, while Ryan Lawrence had 11 points and seven rebounds and Charlie Sobierski and Colin Dougherty added 10 each.

“It’s a great win, going into the Falls,” Gilson said. “We were very unselfish. We moved the ball well on offense and were strong on defense.”

Buzzer-beaters galore

A steal from Joe Piotrowski led to a breakaway layup and the game-winning points for North Tonawanda in a 54-52 victory over visiting Lewiston-Porter in an NFL game.

Piotrowski picked off a pass near the top of the key and raced to the basket with the Lancers holding for a potential game-winning shot. Lew-Port (5-2, 3-2) had taken its first lead since the first quarter late in the game, but the Lumberjacks tied it with a free throw from Michael Awad with 36 seconds left.

After Piotrowski’s layup, the Lancers took a timeout, but their ensuing inbounds pass was stolen by 6-foot-9 forward Adam McNeil of the Lumberjacks.

“It’s a huge win,” NT coach Ryan Mountain said.

Mountain credited NT’s conditioning for the win. The Lumberjacks are in a stretch of four games in six days. Chris Woodard had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds for NT (5-3, 3-2), while Piotrowski finished with 18.

Senior guard Zach Keegan had a game-high 26 for Lew-Port, while guard Kraig Paige was strong down low with 16 points.

In ECIC III, Darius Cleveland beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to give Lackawanna a 58-55 victory over Tonawanda. Junior Larry Fields led the Steelers (3-2, 2-1) with 22 points.

“He’s going to have to start being more aggressive offensively,” Lackawanna coach Tim Foley said of Cleveland. “That’s why we called that play at the end – he came through for us.”

Tristan Boling led the Warriors (2-4, 2-2) with 18 points, while Cody Stich had 17 and Connor Pumm finished with 16.

In the Niagara-Orleans League, Jorge Brown’s only basket of the night was a big one for CSAT.

The Eagles took over possession with 22 seconds left against Wilson and worked the ball around to Brown. His three-pointer with three seconds left gave CSAT (4-2, 3-0) a 53-51 victory. David Jenkins had 21 points for the Eagles, who remained unbeaten in the N-O.

Sweet Home wins in OT

Williamsville South erased a 15-point Sweet Home lead going into the fourth quarter, and the Panthers needed a bucket from junior forward Jordan Evert to send the game into overtime.

Once there, guard Asad Myles hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1.3 seconds left to give the Panthers a thrilling 80-77 win in ECIC II play.

“The South-Sweet Home games have kind of taken on a life of their own, and this was no different,” said Panthers coach Scott Martin. “It seemed like everything they put up in the fourth quarter went in.”

In overtime, the Billies (3-5, 2-2) got the first basket, but Sweet Home tied the game on a “monster dunk” from junior Brandon Smiley. The Panthers eventually went up four points, but South again battled back, setting the stage for Myles.

The junior sixth man saw extended minutes because Sweet Home’s 5-foot-6 point guard, Jordan Heine, was hurt with about three minutes to play. Heine had 24 points before leaving the game.

“He stepped up and rose to the challenge,” Martin said of Myles, who finished with 10 points. “It took a lot of courage to knock down a big shot like that. It’s very big for his individual confidence.”

Senior James Nix added 22 points for Sweet Home (4-3, 2-1), which was playing its home opener after a few weather-related postponements.

Kam Varner led Will South with 26 points.

Elsewhere, No. 1 small school East cruised to an 87-59 victory over Hutch-Tech. Junior guard Percy Bryant had a game-high 25 points, while senior Johnathon Lewis added 19 for the Panthers (6-0, 4-0).

Brannon lights it up

Janae Brannon was on Friday night with 42 points, 11 rebounds and six steals as Emerson (1-6, 1-2 Canisius Cup) picked up its first win of the season, 59-37, over I-Prep/Grover. Brannon was the high scorer in a game in which I-Prep’s Tatiana Deas dropped 31 of her team’s 37 points.

Eighth-grader Erica Martinsen, a 5-foot-6 guard, poured in 18 points and pulled 10 rebounds for a double-double in a 45-30 victory for Williamsville East (4-2, 4-1) in a 45-30 ECIC II win over Hamburg.

Olivia Schmidt went 9 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 4 from three-point range, as Holland handed Cleveland Hill (7-1, 2-1), the No. 6 team in The News small school girls poll, its first loss, 59-46.

Schmidt finished with 28 points and seven steals, while Alicia Massara had eight points and six steals for Holland.

All-American nominees

The list of nominees for this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game includes two local girls players and one on the boys side.

Ciara Rosten of Maryvale, who has signed with Massachusetts, and Adila Gaithers of Tapestry Charter, who has signed with St. Francis (Pa.), are the local representatives on the girls side.

Taplin, who has yet to choose from among several Division I offers, is the lone local boys player on the list.

The list of nominees is an extensive one – there are hundreds of players who have been nominated from throughout the country, including 64 total players from New York alone. All the nominees are seniors.

The entire list is at the McDonald’s All-American Game website. The final rosters, consisting of 24 boys and 24 girls, will be announced at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 on ESPNU. The games will be played April 2 at the United Center in Chicago.