Niagara Gazette — AMHERST — You could see it in the blank stares of Niagara Falls Wolverines followers who made the trip to Williamsville North High School. They were watching their boys basketball team’s season come to an end in a one-sided contest.
Sophomore Breon Harris hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Niagara Falls (7-12) but the host Spartans (15-4), led by a 20-point performance by Sterling Taplin, jumped to a quick lead and rolled to an 84-63 win over the Wolverines in their Section VI Class AA quarterfinal matchup Friday night.
“They fought until the end. I think the pressure in the first quarter killed us,” said Wolverines head coach Sal Constantino. “We just kind of succumbed to it. I also thought Sterling kind of took the game over early. He only had four points in the third quarter, but he had 16 in the first half.”
When he wasn’t scoring, Taplin was setting up his teammates. He finished the game with five steals and 10 assists.
After Will. North’s Dylan Lambert opened the scoring with a 3-pointer followed by two Falls free throws, the Spartans’ Kolbe Hughes scored seven consecutive points before the Wolverines finally netted their first two points from the field. Hughes finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals.
Even Constantino was quick to note that turnovers turned things from bad to worse.
“They were bad turnovers,” he said. “It was like we were just hesitant. We weren’t that aggressive. We were a little intimidated, I think.”
While the Wolverines’ Harris kept finding the basket, teammate Mikey Burmudez was simply snakebitten. He worked hard the entire game, trying to create opportunities and taking shots but whether it was a floater near the hoop or a shot from beyond the arc, luck didn’t seem interested in rewarding him for his efforts. He finished the game with six points.