Niagara Gazette — The bright lights of Division I basketball at Canisius College await Niagara Falls senior Jermaine Crumpton next season. But before the Gazette Player of the Year moves on, he played one final game in the Wolvearena Thursday night in the 2013 PAL/ACE All Star Game.
Crumpton’s South squad fell 89-84, but as time expired he drained a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc. It was a great way to finish, according to Kenmore West coach Mike Meetze, who led the South team.
“Jermaine hit that last shot and I said to him, ‘We didn’t win but you hit the last shot in your last game in your gym,’” Meetze said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Crumpton said after the game that it was sad playing his final game at Niagara Falls, but that he’s excited for the next part of his journey.
“I enjoyed playing here,” he said. “It’s been fun while it lasted but I look forward to what’s ahead of me at the next level.”
The main attraction of the senior/junior game was Crumpton leading his South team against Canisius’ Adam Weir and the North. The two are set to become teammates next season at Canisius College, but they enjoy healthy competition whenever they’re pitted against each other.
Crumpton said he thought Weir got the best of him on Thursday night, but Weir added that even when Jermaine isn’t scoring, he does everything else so well that he still ends up impacting the game.
Meetze appreciated the competitive nature of both All-Western New York talents.
“It’s funny because I didn’t have Jermaine pick Adam up right away, but then I look out there and they’re matched up on each other,” Meetze said. “Those two have that good competitive rivalry and they’re taking it to the next level. When they’re in games like this they want to prove who’s better, and that’s the neat thing about this. Kids who don’t normally play together get to play to prove something.”
Next season Crumpton and Weir figure to go at it on the practice floor at Canisius, and Crumpton said it should be fun because Weir is such a talented player.
On the court, Crumpton said the two go so well together because they each have complementary skills sets. Crumpton can bang inside and attack the basket off the dribble, while Weir is a sniper from outside and a threat to score every time he attacks the paint, Crumpton said.
Weir agreed with his future teammate.
“I’m more of an outside, perimeter player, where as he can go down inside or outside,” he said. “We can run the pick and roll and even some pick and pop. I hope we’ll be a good duo.”
This season marks the seventh year that Niagara Falls hosted the All Star game, a tradition started by former University at Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon when he coached at Sweet Home in the mid-90s.
Falls coach Sal Constantino said he takes a lot of pride in both the senior/junior and sophomore freshman games because of the way the kids compete.
“It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on is that this isn’t a McDonald’s game,” he said “The kids are trying to compete and win. There’s some really good talent coming up.”
That up and coming talent was on full display in the opening game, as the East team outlasted the West in a 95-91, triple overtime thriller. Both teams went back and forth, making big shot after big shot.
West all star and Canisius sophomore Laterrance Reed couldn’t miss in the extra sessions. He made two long distance 3-balls in the finals seconds of the first and second OT to force an extra frame.
Constantino said that fans in attendance couldn’t have asked for more from the talented collection of players.
“I was really impressed with that first game,” he said. “Kids were making big shot after big shot and they were just answering each other every time down the court. I think there is some real good talent coming up they just have to keep focused and working hard.”
Niagara-Wheatfield’ Jack Mulcahy provided some excellent minutes for the South squad, playing alongside Crumpton and North Tonawanda’s Ian Gilhousen from the Niagara Frontier League.
Meetze said he enjoyed getting the chance to work with familiar faces that he’s used to seeing on the other sideline.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “You get the NFL guys like Jack and Ian — they’re not your rivals but they’re kids you’re always playing against. It’s nice to see them on your side. … A lot of the coaches in the league you get to develop a good relationship with. I like to think Sal is one of the guys I look up to and he asked me if I wanted to coach and, for me, it was a no-brainer. It’s all for the good of the kids and you want to see them play well and end their careers nice.”
As for Crumpler, Constantino said his star’s final game was bittersweet, but that he looks forward to watching him at the next level.
“I watched him play the other day with the college guys and it was a bit of a struggle for him I think, because of the pace of the game and the physicality of it,” Constantino said. “He’s a little bit away from getting on the court and playing-playing, but I think if he works hard — athletically his skills are getting better right now. … We know he’s going to a better place at the next level, but he’ll be well missed here. His all around game and just the kid he is.”Find Matt Parrino on Twitter @MattParrino or call 716-693-1000 ext. 4117.