By David Yarger
Day one of the Cataract City Classic at Niagara Falls High School did not disappoint.
The three games played Friday night all had big plays, slam dunks, good defense and great energy from the fans. Athletes from all over Western New York came to show off their talent in this showcase.
In front of college scouts and many loud fans, the players on all six teams were determined to do whatever it took to get their respective teams a win. At the end of each game, one player from each team, who had the most impressive performance, was selected for player of the game honors.
Here is a look at how each game from Friday night went.
Niagara Catholic Patriots vs. Depew Wildcats
The Wildcats defeated the Patriots 65-51 behind a record-breaking performance from Chad Biersbach. Biersbach broke the Cataract City Classic scoring record with 43 points. The record was previously held by former Niagara Falls High School guard Jonny Flynn, who went on to be drafted to the NBA out of Syracuse University.
Depew led the entire game and never looked in danger of giving the lead up. Biersbach's lights-out shooting earned him player of the game honors.
For Niagara Catholic, Nick Krupp led the scoring for the Patriots with 12 points, while Jaemon Turner pitched in 5 points and some impressive defense. Thomas Owens received player of the game honors for the Patriots, scoring 8 points, playing good defense and setting up his teammates with good scoring opportunities.
Williamsville North Spartans vs. Medina Mustangs
The Spartans defeated the Mustangs in the second game of the night, 47-35. This game was tough to watch at times, with an abundance of fouls along with sloppy turnovers.
Jalin Cooper did all he could to keep Medina in the game, pitching in 18 points and several impressive slam-dunks. The effort got him player of the game honors for Medina, but nevertheless was not enough to defeat the Spartans.
For the Spartans, Corey Swisch chipped in 11 points on his way to player of the game honors for the Spartans. Joseph Nusall and Jairus Higgins also put in decent effort to help the Spartans close out the victory.
Park Pioneers vs. Niagara Falls Wolverines
The Park Pioneers defeated the Niagara Falls Wolverines, 55-50 in overtime, in what was the most thrilling and amped-up game of the night. The final game of the night was filled with energy from the fans, players and coaches right from the first tip.
Five seconds into the game, Daniel Scott, of Park, took the opening tipoff and emphatically slammed it into the hoop.
Between the rim-shaking dunks, the Falls pep band and the rival fans shouting back and forth, the game had people either on the edge of their seats or standing on their feet the entire night.
The Falls brought a highly energized defensive presence to the game and led at halftime, 22-21. The pressure put on a young Park High School team (no seniors) caused several turnovers, but the squad brought defensive pressure of its own, keeping the score low.
Late in the game, the Pioneers regained the lead and were up late in the fourth quarter. Tazuan Rose got the Falls back in it, after draining eight of nine free throws late in the game - the most important one tied the game and sent it to overtime.
In overtime, Park received two big buckets from Brandon Smith, one being a three-pointer that gave his team the lead at 48-45. His next was a two-pointer that extended the lead to 5. Rose would hit four free throws in overtime for the Falls, but it wouldn't be enough for a comeback and the Wolverines lost by 5.
For Park, Joe Jones received player of the game honors with 10 points and seven blocked shots. Before he fouled out of the game, the 6'8" junior made life in the paint miserable for Wolverines offensive players driving to the basket.
For the Falls, nine different players scored, but Rose took home player of the game honors with his 16 points and clutch free throw shooting late in the game.
The Cataract City Classic continues Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m., with Wilson High School facing off against Nichols High School.
Niagara Falls looks to get revenge, as the Wolverines play again against UPrep out of Rochester.
There will be four games, including those two, in the final day of the classic. Entrance to the event is $5 for adults and $3 for students with school identification.