Niagara Gazette — Head coach Sal Constantino has said all season that balanced scoring and tenacious defense were key if this year’s Niagara Falls Wolverines were to be successful.
That proved true Wednesday night at the Wolvearena in a 72-48 Section VI Class AA boys basketball pre-quarterfinal win over the visiting Orchard Park Quakers.
Every player on the seventh-seeded Wolverines’ roster scored at least two points, and constant on-ball pressure caused turnovers that led to easy points and seemed to tire out the No. 10 Quakers.
“We had a slow start, but we talked a little about playing in spurts,” Constantino said. “We had a big spurt where we kind of opened the game up, and I think our pressure really wore them down.”
The Wolverines (7-12) battled foul trouble early as both teams struggled in a sloppy first quarter. Niagara Falls finished the quarter with a 13-12 lead before settling down in the second.
Niagara Falls upped the pressure in after the first and converted a series of Quaker turnovers into an 11-point lead before a late OP 3-pointer cut the halftime lead to 33-25.
Constantino said the early foul trouble may have been a blessing.
“We had to get guys in the game a little sooner than we would’ve liked, but everybody contributed,” he said. “It was good to see everybody pitch in.”
Orchard Park (2-19) hung tough in the third, though another run allowed the Wolverines to close the quarter with a 16-12 advantage and a 49-37 lead.
Niagara Falls opened it up in the fourth behind strong play from sophomore guard Breon Harris, who Constantino said “had his best game of the year.” The Wolverines took advantage of OP errors and more than doubled up the Quakers, 23-11.
Harris finished third on the team with nine points but also dished six assists and grabbed four steals. Junior Mikey Bermudez led NF with 15 points.
“Mikey always seems to be in the right place at the right time,” Constantino said. “We kind of play him as a post and as a wing. He’s undersized as a post, but he’s a tough, hard-nosed player.”
Junior Devin Scarborough chipped in 11 points and while freshman Tyler Sanders just missed a double-double, scoring eight points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Senior Jake Martineau, juniors Joey Medley and Antwan Palmer and eighth-grader Saquan Ralands each scored five points, freshman Devin Sanders scored four, junior Jordan Rankin had three and sophomore Elijah Griggs finished with two.
It was the second game in a row where everybody on NF scored.
The Wolverines travel to second-seeded Williamsville North to take on the Spartans and star guard Sterling Taplin at 7 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.
“We’re looking at it like we’ve got nothing to lose,” Constantino said. “We’ve got a couple of guys chomping at the bit to get at them.”
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