By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — The Lewiston-Porter boys basketball team saw its season come to an end Tuesday night at Buffalo State, when a 58-48 loss at the hands of Iroquois put an end to the Lancers’ program-best run through sections.
The Lancers, No. 3 seed in Section VI Class A-2, hung with the No. 2 Chiefs for three quarters, largely due to the contributions of seniors Nick Mansour (20 points) and Marc Paonessa (10 points), and with the help of a couple of big shots.
“Every time we delivered a punch, they hit us back,” L-P coach Matt Bradshaw said. “Right up until that last round, if you will, we stayed with them. We just didn’t have enough left at the end.”
Mansour propelled the Lancers to a quick start in the first quarter. The Chiefs opened the game on a 9-2 run, but Mansour scored Lew-Port’s first first four baskets and closed the quarter with a tough 3-pointer as time wound down on the shot clock to finish with 11 points in the quarter and give the Lancers a 13-11 lead headed into the second.
The Chiefs turned the tables in the second behind a pressure defense that forced turnovers and led to easy buckets. Iroquois hit five layups in the quarter, and entered halftime with a 28-20 lead.
Lew-Port’s seniors stepped up coming out of the half, with Paonessa, Mansour and 6-foot-4 center Josh Daul combined to open with a 9-0 run and retake the lead. The Chiefs upped the pressure again to get some easy layups, but a Lew-Port 3 with just seconds remaining in the quarter pulled the Lancers deficit to 39-36 entering the fourth.
Iroquois’ leaders took control in the fourth, though. The senior duo of Phil Bowen and Nathan Wilkinson — both captains — combined for 10 points in the quarter, many of which came off steals or turnovers forced by the two guards.
“We knew Wilkinson was their guy, and he was going to get his points, but too me, (Bowen) was really the guy who won the game for him,” said Bradshaw.
The loss marks the end of a career for much of Lew-Port’s team, including Mansour, who bore the brunt of the scoring load this season. Bradshaw said the program — which made its first trip to Buffalo State this year — has some rebuilding to do.
“We have a pretty good JV team, and that can mean some good things,” he said. “But again, Nick Mansour’s our man. He played really well tonight, and if he’s not playing, we’re not here.
“With him leaving, we’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill next year.”Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.