Wolverines can't get pass regional game for second-straight year
By David Yarger
The Niagara Falls Wolverines had seen their share of ups-and-downs all season. Saturday night vs. the hometown favorite Fairport Red Raiders summed up the power Section V had to offer.
Fairport defeated the Falls, 63-32, in front of a sea of Red Raider fans at Genesee Community College. In the same Far West Regional game last year, the Wolverines lost to the Aquinas Institute, the eventual state-champion, by 23 points.
Coach Sal Constantino said to lose like that for a second year stung a bit.
"If you look back to a year ago, Aquinas kind of handed it to us, too," Constantino said. "Tonight, the better team won. I'm not saying we can't beat them on a different night, but tonight the better team won."
Things looked positive for the Falls at the start.
Marquise Miller banked a 3-pointer off the backboard to start the scoring and give the Wolverines the early lead.
Tazaun Rose followed that with back-to-back 3s to give NF a 9-8 lead.
The lead changed eight times in the first quarter and, at the end of the first, Fairport held a 13-12 lead.
Little did the Wolverines know that Fairport would go on a 50-20 run.
In the second quarter, the Falls clung to a 16-13 lead. Fairport's Ryan Algier sank two free throws to cut it to 1 and, on the ensuing inbounds, Niagara Falls turned the ball over.
Matt Muncey pulled up for a 3-pointer and drained it to give Fairport the lead for good. Dan Masino followed that with a 3 of his own and, after the 8-point turnaround, the Red Raiders had the lead, 21-16.
This deflated for the Wolverines. Constantino wouldn't say the turnover changed the game, but, as the lead got bigger, it was tougher to overcome.
"I don't know if it's a turnover that changed the game," Constantino said. "I thought we just had moments where we got very selfish. Then, I thought we took some really poor shots, and then it's kind of like a snowball going downhill. One guy takes a bad shot, this guy takes a bad shot, and by then you're overwhelmed."
It was downhill from that moment, as Fairport won the second quarter, 16-6, to lead at halftime, 29-18.
The third quarter wasn't any better for the Wolverines. The Red Raiders held them to 5 points while scoring 18 of their own. The score was 47-23 after three.
In the fourth, Wolverines senior Charles Lamar scored 8 of his team-high 13 points.
Constantino offered a little tribute to his five seniors (Lamar, Tyler and Devin Sanders, Cortese Myles and Jamel Burton), by letting them all play out the final minutes.
"It was their moment," Constantino said about the five seniors closed out the game.
"I just told those guys they make me really proud. They are exactly what I'd like this program to be known for. Not just on the court, but off the court, also," he said. "They work hard in the classroom - they're very respectful kids. They're really a lot about what we like Niagara Falls basketball to be known as."
The Wolverines final record for the year was 15-9.