by Larry Austin
A left-handed shot in the lane from Jordan Jelks gave the Grand Island boys basketball team its first Niagara Frontier League win Friday.
GI beat visiting Niagara-Wheatfield 49-47, with Jelks scoring the game winner with 25 seconds left in a tie game. It was the second win in a row for GI.
Having Jelks back from an month-long injury is "a huge lift for us," said GI coach Nate Beutel. "He is probably the most athletic kid we have right now."
"I told him in the third quarter, I challenged him, I said, 'Hey, take this game over like you did Ken-West,'" said Beutel. "I know we lost (to Ken-West), but he really went man-to-man with some of those guards who were good."
GI had 21 points from Ryan Ross against Tapestry in a 47-45 win Feb. 1. Carey had 16 from Quinn Carey on Friday night. Both are underclassmen.
"Those are our true basketball players that love the game and want to get better and are being rewarded, which is great," Beutel said. The Vikings are home Friday against Kenmore East on senior night.
"I know we want to make amends for the first time," Beutel said, referring to an earlier loss at K-E. "We played absolutely terrible, and we knew it. That's a team that we can beat. Niagara-Wheatfield has beaten Kenmore East twice, so that's a game we need to have."
GI lost one of the three at North Tonawanda Tuesday, 69-45. Jadon Wegrzyn had 12 points. The Vikings are 1-11 in the Niagara Frontier League, 4-12 overall. The four wins are more than last year's total, "with practically a brand-new team of young kids that I think are really kind of coming of age," Beutel said. "We're playing our best basketball near the end of the season. I could see this kind of building up and it finally spilled over the last couple nights with some wins, which is great for the kids."
Getting off the schneid in the NFL helps GI with the power points used to seed the teams in the Section VI playoffs. GI trails in power points to teams like Star, who the Vikings beat handily earlier in the season.
"This is one win, but we've really got to build on this," Beutel said. "We've got a couple more winnable games ... that I feel like we can get."