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11 3-pointers aid Lumberjacks to victory
By David Yarger
In basketball, teams “live and die by the three.”
Wednesday night, the North Tonawanda Lumberjacks lived on it.
North Tonawanda defeated Niagara-Wheatfield on the Falcons’ senior night, 68-60.
It wasn’t all produced by the 3-point shot, though, as the Lumberjacks were aided by several offensive rebounds that kept possessions lasting and time ticking off the clock.
In the first quarter, NT’s Wally Wisniewski was a man on a mission. Wisniewski scored 11 of the team’s 16 first-quarter points, including three 3-pointers.
On the Falcons’ side, Raejaun Smith kept the team afloat with 7 points, including a trey to end the quarter and cut the NT lead to 16-13.
With the Jacks up 21-15, the Falcons opened a barrage of 3-pointers.
Davon Ware caught fire, sinking back-to-back treys to tie it at 21, then freshman TJ Robinson nailed a 3-ball to give the Falcons its first lead since it was 4-3.
The Jacks answered right back, though, as Cameron Cutter nailed a trey, then Dante Moultrie followed with a bucket to give NT a 26-25 lead.
At halftime, the game was tied 28-28.
In the third quarter, Smith scored 9 of the Falcons’ 12 points, but NT answered with 23 points of their own to take an 11-point lead into the final frame.
Additionally, in the third, up just 43-40, the Jacks ended the frame with an 8-0 run, as Noah Fox-Stoddard nailed a shot and followed it with a difficult trey, then Tyler Macneil ended the quarter with a 3-ball.
In the fourth, Fox-Stoddard and Macneil opened up with back-to-back threes, giving the Jacks a 13-point lead with a little over six minutes to go. The lead got back up to 13 (62-49) after Fox-Stoddard nailed his third 3-pointer of the game.
The Falcons did not bow down, though, as a Roman Wright jumper began a 13-1 run. After four free throws from Smith, two from senior Zack Stanley, as well as a trey, the Jacks lead was cut to 63-60 with a little over a minute to go.
The Falcons came down the court down by three with a chance to either tie or cut it to one, but a turnover gave it back to the Jacks.
On the Jacks ensuing possession, the team took a steady amount of time off the clock, missed two field goals, but got offensive rebounds on both misses. Finally, off an inbounds play, Moultrie’s back cut to the basket left him wide open for an easy layup to extend the lead to five.
After an NT missed free throw, the Falcons came down the court and turned it over again.
Moultrie and Fox-Stoddard drilled three of four free throws to end it and give NT a 68-60 win.
For the Jacks, Moultrie led with 19 points, Fox-Stoddard added 15 and Wisniewski had 14. Macneil also added 9 points off three treys.
For the Falcons, Smith led the way with a game-high 23 points, while Ware added 12, Stanley and Robinson netted 8 apiece and Wright had 7. Additionally, senior Cam Miller added a bucket for N-W.
Falcons coach Erik O’Bryan said he felt his team went off its normal game of playing together for a stretch in the second half.
“We shot ourselves in the foot and they (NT) took advantage of it. We spent four to five minutes of that second half pulling at each other with frustration instead of helping each other like we have been. And that’s because they wanted it bad and the frustration took over. Not finger pointing, but more everyone trying to do too much. Then, to their credit, they regrouped; they took that energy and they funneled it towards each other, and that’s where we went on that 13-1 run,” O’Bryan said.
O’Bryan said the game was a missed opportunity for a possible big win.
For N-W, Smith was all over the court scoring and grabbing rebounds to keep the Falcons alive in the game. Smith was one of five seniors that were honored before the game.
“Raejaun was fantastic tonight,” O’Bryan said. “There’s no question about it. He attacked the basket: He attacked the basket for rebounds, he attacked the basket on drives, he was solid defensively. … We need Raejaun like that all the time. Raejaun is so important to our team.”
O’Bryan added Wright played a quality game, and when the team was at its best, it would find Wright in the middle of the NT zone defense and he was making plays.
O’Bryan gave credit to the big second half from Fox-Stoddard, as “his 15 (points) felt like 25, because it was all in the second half.”
Despite a slight height advantage favoring the NT big men, O’Bryan said it was the guards of NT that hurt the Falcons on the offensive glass.
“Their guards rebound physically and that did hurt us down the stretch,” he said. “We got beat up a little bit down the stretch on the backboard and they had a lot of second opportunities. That’s something that’s right there in the scouting report and they all know that, that this team does a nice job of attacking the glass for offensive rebounds. … Their guards really do attack the glass and that hurt us towards the end of the game.”
North Tonawanda goes on the road to Lockport at 6:30 p.m. Friday, while Niagara-Wheatfield will travel to Niagara Falls at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Prior to the game:
It was senior night for the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons basketball team. The squad honored its five seniors (Davon Ware, Raejaun Smith, Cam Miller, Roman Wright and Zack Stanley) before its contest versus North Tonawanda. Pictured are the five with their parents at half court.