Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — A Section VI showdown between Class AA powers Jamestown and Niagara Falls at Buffalo State has become a bit of a tradition in the last few years, so much so that this year’s Section VI tournament handbook has a picture of NF’s J.J. Wilkins and Jamestown’s Zack Panebianco on the cover.
Basketball fans in Western New York will be treated to another championship meeting of these marquee programs thanks to Niagara Falls’ 72-62 semifinal win over Kenmore West at Buff State on Thursday.
Wilkins scored 26 points to lead all scorers, while Ramir Burton scored 19 and Jermaine Crumpton added 17 for the Falls, which took control midway through the first quarter and kept at least a five-point cushion for the rest of the game.
The Wolverines, already without second-leading scorer Vinzell Watkins, were shorthanded in a different way Thursday night. Head coach Sal Constantino had to miss the game to attend to a family matter, leaving assistant coach Carlos Bradberry as the lead man on the sideline.
“We played in spurts,” Bradberry said. “We were on the verge (of blowing it open), then they would make a play.
“I think we broke down defensively a lot. I think we gambled and I think they game-planned for it.”
The Wolverines opened with Ken West’s 6-foot-7 center Quinton Campbell in their sights. On the Wolverines’ second possession, Burton drove right into Campbell’s body to draw a foul.
Not even halfway through the first quarter, Campbell was on the bench with his second foul as Burton sparked an 8-0 run that helped the Wolverines take a 14-9 lead after the first quarter.
“Our gameplan was to try to get him out of there, and it worked,” Bradberry said. “It worked to an extent, but I think their other guys stepped up in his place. It was really competitive.”