Wolverines comeback and spoil Lumberjacks senior day festivities
By David Yarger
Friday night's North Tonawanda-Niagara Falls matchup was a game that many people attending will never forget. Both teams provided non-stop, on the edge of your seat action that was thrilling until the final horn sounded.
Like every basketball game, their must be a winner and the Wolverines were the victors, 58-55 in overtime.
On the Lumberjacks senior night, senior guard Trevor Book came ready to play, as he netter 7 points in the first quarter, while Dante Moultrie had 6 points off two 3-pointers.
The Wolverines were down 6-1 in the early going, but Josiah Harris came off the bench for the Wolverines and sparked the offense with two 3-pointers and an elbow jump shot.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied, 13-13.
In the second quarter, offense was invisible, as both teams combined for 11 points. Noah Fox netted all 6 points for NT in the quarter, drilling two 3-pointers.
At halftime, North Tonawanda was clinging to a 19-18 lead.
In the third quarter, Moultrie came out firing. The sophomore converted the first 8 points of the quarter for the Jacks, including two more 3-pointers. The NT lead got as high as 9 points, 32-23.
Quran Dubois didn't let the Wolverines go down without a fight, though, as he netted 10 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter.
After three quarter, the Jacks held the lead, 38-36.
In the fourth, Harris gave the Wolverines their first lead since early in the first quarter, drilling a 3-pointer.
With the score 40-39, Lumberjacks, Dubois and Harris went on a 6-0 run to give the Falls a 45-40 lead.
NT answered back with 7 straight points, as Book knocked down a pair of free throws, Moultrie hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game and Book topped the run with a jumper, giving the Jacks a 47-45 lead.
Moran Montgomery of the Falls said 'Not so fast,' as he converted an and-one opportunity, making a layup and the foul shot, giving the Wolverines a 48-47 lead.
The sixth and final lead change of the quarter came as Book nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game, as the Jacks regained a 50-48 lead.
The quarter also brought along three moments where the score was tied. Dubois netted two free throws to tie it at 50.
With time winding down, Book took a 3-pointer that ricocheted off the rim and into the hands of Kyle McNeil for a long rebound. McNeil was fouled and went to line for a one-and-one opportunity. The shot missed, and on the rebound Roddy Gayle was fouled.
Gayle went to line to give the Falls the lead, also with a one-and-one opportunity, but he also missed.
Book grabbed the rebound with under 7 seconds left, dribbled down the court, pump faked a defender and had an open 3-pointer to win it, but the shot just missed by inches of send the Lumberjacks' faithful home happy.
In overtime, Montgomery continued to do the dirty work in the paint, as he knocked down two free throws and sunk a layup to give the Wolverines leads in overtime.
Falls coach Sal Constantino praised the work of Montgomery, saying he's young to the game and is really a football player playing basketball that gives you everything he's got.
With the score 54-52, Niagara Falls, Dubois and Gayle each made two free throws, and Book nailed his fifth 3-pointer, but it was too late for the Jacks, as the Wolverines held on, 58-55.
For the Wolverines, the win increases their record to 10-0 in the Niagara Frontier League. Along with Dubois' 20 points, Harris netted 15 and Montgomery had 9. The Wolverines also got away with missing eight free throws on the night.
It's also the third straight game where the Falls has been tested mightily and had to make comebacks to win. Constantino said the adversity could help his team and noted NT's strong game plan against his team during the win.
"They made us play at their speed. To our credit, we win a game not playing our style. I guess it shows that if we have to play a slowed down game, we can win, but I'd really rather play our style," Constantino said.
For the Lumberjacks, the loss drops their league record to 6-4. Book led the Jacks with 25 points and Moultrie added 15. Coach Ryan Mountain believed his team executed the game plan for the most part
"For the most part, I think we did everything we needed to do to defeat the superior opponent. We were confident with the game plan and the kids executed it almost to perfection," Mountain said.
Down going into the fourth quarter, Constantino told his team during they needed to change the pace of the game and speed things up.
"We just told them ... 'We need to get the ball up quick and get a couple quicks shots. We need to get the tempo of the game; and kind of speed them up too.' ... Quran really had a nice fourth quarter and Moran gave us a lot tonight," Constantino said.
The first time the two teams played, the Wolverines had their way with the Jacks. Tonight, Constantino gave credit to the fight of NT guards and noted differences from the first meeting.
"I thought their guards handled our pressure," Constantino said. "I think the first time we turned them over a little bit. Book had two points in the first quarter in the last game and that kind of slowed them down."
As the game was tight in the fourth quarter and overtime, the Jacks began to take questionable shots, which in turn gave the ball back to the Wolverines. Earlier in the game those same shots were dropping, and Mountain thought fatigue began to set in a little bit.
"It was two teams that gave it their all and both were very tired. At the end of the day, I mean, they didn't execute on anything. They scored on offensive rebounding. ...It came down to heart and who wanted it more on the boards and Niagara Falls earned the win," Mountain said.
Mountain said the play of Moultrie was huge for his team. Moultrie, who missed all of last season with, what Mountain said, an auto immune disease has taken on the role of a secondary scorer behind Book. Mountain called him an "inspiration to our basketball program."
In the end, the Lumberjacks won't get a chance to see the Wolverines again, as the Falls earned the season sweep tonight and both teams play in different classes for the playoffs. Mountain believed the close loss versus the Wolverines should be a confidence boost to his team.
"Progress. This is just another one to go back on. The last shot at the buzzer goes in; what's the difference? If Trev's last buzzer-beater goes in, which it missed by an inch, we walk out of here a confident club. It didn't go in, ultimately, we lost by three in overtime; it doesn't change anything. We're still walking out of here with more confidence than we did before the game and I think that confidence is going to carry on to sectionals," Mountain said.
Both teams are back in action tomorrow at Niagara Falls High School in the Battle at the Border. NT faces St. Paul of Canada at 3 p.m., and the Wolverines have the nightcap versus St. Michaels of Toronto at 6 p.m.