Benton leads Falcons in non-league win over Spartans
By David Yarger
Coach Gary Jackson said his Niagara-Wheatfield girls basketball team had gotten off to slow starts in past games. On Tuesday night, it was anything but a slow start.
The Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons defeated the Starpoint Spartans in non-league action Tuesday night, 55-43.
The Falcons were led by the hot jump shooting of Taylor Benton and Kelsey Lachowski.
In the first quarter, the Falcons jumped out to a 16-9 lead, half of the points coming from both Benton and Lachowski.
Benton continued her success in the second quarter, nailing 12 of the Falcons 18 points.
Elizabeth Bradley refused to let Starpoint go down without a fight, though. She had 9 points in the second quarter, and kept the Spartans deficit at 11 at halftime, 34-23.
At halftime, the entire Niagara-Wheatfield team came out to center court to present a check worth over $1,000 to the American Diabetes Association. Lachowski, a senior who was diagnosed with diabetes her sophomore year, set up the fundraiser to give people who go through what she does a chance to go to Camp Aspire; a camp where people with diabetes can go to interact with one another and enjoy their time with each other.
After the halftime break, Lachowski got the offense rolling with two quick jump shots, throttling what would be a 12-3 Falcons run. At the third quarter horn, the Falcons led 47-33.
In the fourth quarter, Starpoint was able to win the quarter score 11-8, but the deficit by then was too much, and the Falcons were able to secure the win, 55-43.
For the Falcons, Benton had a team-high 18 points, while Lachowski also reached double figures with 11 points. Also, LeGary Jackson and Brianna Zayatz has 8 and 6 points, respectively.
For the Spartans, Bradley did it all, scoring 25 of the team's 43, including five deep 3-pointers.
After the game, Gary credited the quick start with a rotation to the team's starting lineup.
"We had to change up the rotation and put some shooters out," he said. "Once we did that it opened up the game and we were able to come back and put our defenders out, rather than having defenders and trying to come back every game."
He added that two sophomores replaced two seniors in the starting lineup, Jenna Bailey and Brianna Zayatz. The duo combined for 10 points, and contributed to the starters scoring 47 of the team's 55 points. Coach Jackson also noted that the seniors that came off the bench gave a big push to the team in the win.
As for Benton, 18 points was her season high. Coach Jackson said he was pleased to see that outcome after he'd talked to her about taking on a scoring role.
"We've been getting on Taylor about just scoring; 'just relax and go out there and shoot; do what you do.' I talked to her before the game and I said 'are you loose, are you ready?' and she said yes and I said 'okay, focus on what you can do, even before the game.' So, she just took that within herself and lit them up," he said.
For the Falcons, the win extends their record to 4-2 on the year. Their next game is at home at 6:30 p.m., Friday versus Kenmore East.