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Familiar territory for Wolverines: Niagara Falls upsets Jamestown to reach 3rd straight sectional title game

Thu, Mar 2nd 2017 03:45 pm

By David Yarger

The Niagara Falls Wolverines defeated the Jamestown Red Raiders 58-50 in the Section VI Class AA semifinals on Wednesday night.

The Buffalo State College gym filled up to see the Wolverines take on the Red Raiders for a third straight year. The two teams didn't disappoint, going back and forth throughout, swapping the lead numerous times.

In Niagara Falls' last game, against Lockport, nine players scored. Afterward, coach Sal Constantino his team plays best when it gets a group effort.

That's exactly what Constantino received again on Wednesday, as 10 Wolverines scored.

The game did not start Niagara Falls' way. Jamestown gained a quick 6-0 lead.

Marquise Miller got the Wolverines on the board with a layup. The Wolverines ended the quarter on an 11-3 run, highlighted by a block by Charles Lamar that turned into a layup for Quaran Dubois on the other end. That play gave the Wolverines their first lead. Niagara Falls led 11-9 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Falls began to get into foul trouble, and Jamestown's James Rojas made 10 free throws. He had 16 at the half.

It was a 2-point game as time winded down. Tazaun Rose, who didn't play in the first quarter, drained back-to-back threes to give the Wolverines a 30-24 lead at halftime.

Rose took full responsibility for missing the first quarter due a team-given suspension.

"I missed practice, so I take the blame for that," he said.

Missing Rose and center Syquan Ralands for that quarter didn't get the team in a hole, Constantino said, as the other players were able to adjust.

"I think we started the game with a little bit of jitters," he said. "I don't know if that had anything to do with that. Some guys, it was the first time they've gotten on the court a lot. They got off to a 6-0 lead and we settled down a bit, and I'm really proud of our guys."

Jamestown didn't give in. The Red Raiders came out firing to win the third quarter 25-9. The Rojas brothers, James and Marcus, combined for 13 points in the quarter, and their team led 44-39 after three periods.

Early in the season, when the Wolverines got down, it was tough for them to come back up. Constantino said the team has since grown up.

That was seen in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines went on a 15-2 run to grab a 54-46 lead with 2:29 left.

The game, much like the one vs. Lockport, was put on ice with clutch free throws from Rose.

Keeping composure late in games seems simple to him.

"My JV coach always told me to go through the routine and keep a smile on my face," Rose said.

The Falls won the quarter, 19-6, erasing the 5-point Jamestown lead. When the horn sounded, the Wolverines won, 58-50, to move onto their 16th sectional title game in 18 seasons.

Players Lamar and twin brothers Tyler and Devin Sanders have been to the title game the past three years, giving the Wolverines an edge in experience. Still, Constantino refused to say his team had an advantage for the championship game.

"I don't know about that," he said. "Everyone says the Falls has been there that many years. Well, these kids haven't been with us since 2010. It's fun and it's exciting for them, and I'm sure it is for Lancaster. We're looking forward to it."

For players such as Rose, it's a new experience.

"I kind of feel famous," Rose said. "But as high school junior, it feels good."

Rose led the Wolverines with 15 points, while Sanders added 7. Cortese Myles and Ralands also added 6 apiece.

For the Red Raiders, James Rojas led the way with 22 points. His brother, Marcus, added 11.

The Wolverines will play the Lancaster Legends, who defeated Kenmore West 71-48.

Lancaster will look for its first sectional title since 1959, while the Wolverines seek to go back-to-back. The game will be played at Buff State at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 4.

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