Book's 22 points lead Lumberjacks past Falcons
By David Yarger
Niagara-Wheatfield and North Tonawanda's battle Tuesday night was a tale of two halves. One was strictly defense and another was strictly offense. In the end, the Lumberjacks used a big 30-13 second-half run to put the Falcons away, 56-39.
The final score didn't depict it, but the Falcons played one of their best games of the season against one of the Niagara Frontier League's top teams.
The first quarter was not a fun one for offensive lovers. Both teams struggled mightily shooting the ball, but behind Trevor Book's 8 first quarter points, North Tonawanda led 11-7
After Anthony Ruffino scored the first bucket of the second quarter for the Falcons, the Jacks went on a 12-0 run to gain a 23-9 lead. Ruffino, who carried a heavy burden of the offense with guard Davon Ware not available, finished the quarter with 6 straight points to cut into the NT lead, 23-15.
Out of the halftime break, the offensive switch flicked on, and both teams came out firing. The Falcons' Nick Clouden, normally known for his paint presence, nailed a corner 3-pointer to start the third quarter. After a stop, Ruffino followed with a 3-pointer and then a layup to tie it at 23.
Sebastian Reid nailed a 3-pointer in the corner for the Jacks, but Clouden came right back with another 3-pointer from the same corner to tie it at 26.
As hyped up as the Falcons were, they weren't aware that the Jacks would finish the game on a 30-13 run.
After the Clouden 3-pointer, NT embarked on a 14-0 run to extend the lead to 40-26. At the end of the third, the Jacks led, 41-27.
The Jacks began to put the game on ice in the fourth quarter, as the team won the quarter, 15-12, and the game, 56-39.
After the game, Falcons coach Erik O'Bryan was pleased with his team's showing against a good North Tonawanda team, saying there was effort and heart throughout, where the last time the two teams played, NT went on a big run in the second quarter and sunk any Falcons hope.
"Fight was always there. We came back two different times and that's not easy against a pretty good team. You can only hold him (Book) down so long. Quite honestly, I thought we did a pretty good job on him. ... I thought we did a good job for two to three quarters on that," O'Bryan said.
On the big second half run, O'Bryan said the offense became to much like it was in the first half, compared to the first few minutes of the second half.
"We were kind of pressing a little bit. We got some open shots through the flow of the offense and the ball was moving real quick and then we reverted back to the way we started the game; catch, dribble, pass. You beat the zone with a dribble sometimes, but it's gotta be a direct route to the basket and attack to hit the seam or kick out to the block," O'Bryan said.
O'Bryan added that big runs have been the achilles heel for his team, as teams have used scoring spurts to separate themselves for the Falcons and it's not easy for the team to "stop the bleeding."
With losses mounting, O'Bryan admitted the team is aggravated, but never questioned the work ethic of his team and called them "resilient."
"Of course there's frustration, but they'll come back tomorrow, they'll work hard and they'll get ready to play against Kenmore West on Thursday night. ... We just have to keep plugging away, and is it easy? No, it's difficult at times. ... We have to come in tomorrow knowing we fought pretty hard tonight and knowing we'll have a couple goals to achieve Thursday night," O'Bryan said.
For the Lumberjacks, the win gives them a season sweep of the Falcons. Book led the way with 22, while Reid added 11. The Jacks win increases their NFL record to 6-3. Their next contest is at 7 p.m. Friday versus first place Niagara Falls.
In the loss, Ruffino led the Falcons with 20 points, while Clouden added 10. The Falcons Niagara Frontier League record drops to 2-7.
O'Bryan called the season a grind, and that grind for the Falcons continues at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Kenmore West.