Niagara Gazette — Following last year’s season-ending loss to Iroquois in the Section VI Class A-2 semifinals, Lewiston-Porter coach Matt Bradshaw knew his team would face an uphill battle to return to Buffalo State in 2013-14.
The loss marked the end of the careers of Nick Mansour and Marc Paonessa, two seniors who had seemingly willed the Lancers to a pair of postseason wins.
“We’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill next year,” Bradshaw admitted.
The Lancers again found themselves at Buffalo State this season, with sophomore Jenard Jackson and junior Craig Paige filling Mansour’s and Paonessa’s roles. For their ability to fill what looked like gigantic holes and push the Lew-Port program to new heights, the two have been named the Gazette’s Boys Basketball Co-Players of the Year.
“These two were huge for us all season,” Bradshaw said.
Neither player was much of a factor for last season’s Lancers. Jackson, then a freshman, earned only a handful of minutes in a few varsity games. Paige was starting as a sophomore for Niagara Catholic. Originally from Niagara Falls, he moved in with an uncle and transferred to Lew-Port to ensure he could remain in the area while his parents considered relocating.
Bradshaw knew the duo had potential early this year. Before the season, he raved about Jackson’s potential as a heady, pass-first point guard. With his development and Paige’s transfer, the Lancers went from an upstart small-school to a team that could play spoiler in the Niagara Frontier League.
“Craig was a great addition, and they complimented each other really well,” Bradshaw said.
“(Jackson) likes to pass and I like to score,” Paige joked. “He finds a way to get players open and a lot of times it’s easy shots. He’s a really good point guard, especially for how young he is.”