BY JOE KONZE firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — NIAGARA FALLS — It was a battle between No.1 and No. 2 in Niagara Frontier League girls' basketball at Niagara Falls High School, with host Niagara Falls taking on division rival Lockport (11-2 NFL) last night for the NFL championship.
In front of a crazed gymnasium – all in attendance for senior night – the Wolverines (12-0 NFL) were able to fend off the Lions with a 67-39 win that earned for them their fourteenth win of the overall season and NFL championship.
“It’s a special win,” said Niagara Falls head coach Mike Esposito. “I’ve been with these girls now four years. We (started) out with five wins our first year, then 10 and now 14. It’s just really special. This group has come a long way.”
After a shaky start for both teams, Niagara Falls finally found its rhythm taking advantage of mismatches in the Lions’ defense and took control of the game late in the second quarter.
Led by senior Victoria Pryor, the Wolverines never lost their lead. Pryor created chaos for Lockport finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
She also helped out on the other side of the floor and added seven steals for the evening.
Coach Esposito spoke about his senior guard's play and the pace of her game.
“(Pryor) is such a competitor,” Esposito said. “She plays terrific defense, her offense has picked up I can’t say enough good things about her. She was so psyched to play this game. She’s had such a great career. I’m just so proud of her.”
Defensively, Niagara Falls found a way to lock down the Lions offense, forcing 20 turnovers on the evening.
The press defense also forced Lockport to take bad shots down the stretch, allowing the Wolverines to take advantage and increase their margin of lead.
Esposito said that the defensive game plan had much to do with their win.
“We thought we could wear them down,” Esposito said. “We’ve got real good athletic guards. We just love playing defense. That was the game plan, wear them down.”
Also adding to the Niagara Falls offensive attack were juniors Toni Polk and Bianca Brown. Brown finished the night with 16 points, while Polk finished with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The Wolverines will continue their journey towards staying unbeaten in the league when they play Kenmore West next Monday, beginning at 7 p.m.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win the NFL,” Esposito said. “We did it. Now we’ve got a bigger fish to fry. We think we have a decent shot at sectionals. There are a lot of good teams.”