By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette — When the boys basketball teams from Niagara Falls and Jamestown get together for their seemingly annual meeting in the Class AA finals at Buffalo State, Western New York's basketball fans brace themselves for a doozy.
The local powerhouses didn't disappoint when they met Saturday night in a low-scoring defensive affair. Unfortunately for Niagara Falls, the Wolverines found themselves on the losing end of the 46-39 slugfest.
"We fell into playing a half-court game," NF coach Sal Constantino said. "It's really the first time this season we didn't get into a transition game, and I'm not really sure why."
The Wolverines started out on fire, winning the first quarter 15-11, all on 3-pointers. They shot 5 of 8 from behind the arc in the quarter, which Constantino said may not have been a great thing.
"We were screaming at them after the first quarter that it was fool's gold," he said. "We're not going to shoot at that rate for an entire game.
"We came back down to earth, and now all the sudden the basket starts to get smaller and we're not really attacking the basket."
And they didn't, scoring 10 points or less in each of the final three quarters.
Jamestown took the lead in the second behind star point guard Tommy Campion, who closed the quarter on a personal 7-1 run. The Red Raiders held the Wolverines to five points in the second and took a 25-20 lead into halftime.
The teams buckled down on defense in the third, though Niagara Falls would make a slight dent in the Jamestown lead. The Red Raiders led by as many as nine points, but back-to-back 3s by Ramir Burton helped pull the Falls back into the game, trailing only 33-30 heading into the fourth.
The game opened up a bit in the fourth with Niagara Falls scrambling to pull to a tie. The Wolverines switched to a full-court press, and while the increased pressure kept the Red Raiders off the board, NF players still struggled to find the bottom of the basket.
The Wolverines didn't hit a field goal for more than half the quarter, and finished with only two. Jamestown's Zack Panebianco went 6 for 6 from the line down the stretch, sealing the victory.
The game marks the end of the high school careers of Burton, Jermaine Crumpton, J.J. Wilkins, Stefon Baldwin, Steffon Caffee, Tikere Ralands, Dahnasric Hightower and Tyler Poole.
"It's disheartening," Constantino said. "I told the guys just now, 'I've never been more proud of a group than I am of this senior class.' ... We poured ourDO NOT PRINT AS BREAKOUT!!(@$#!@)$*@ PUT IN HS RAIL 1-Jamestown 46, 2-Niagara Falls 39 Niagara Falls 15 5 10 9 -- 39 Jamestown 11 14 8 13 -- 46 Niagara Falls -- Caffee 10, Crumpton 15, Wilkins 6, Ralands 2, Burton 6. Jamestown -- Kellam 13, Panebianco 12, Campion 13, Lee Yaw 6, McBride 2. 3-point goals -- Caffee 2, Crumpton 3, Wilkins, Burton 2, Campion. Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.