Niagara Gazette — SANBORN — The Niagara County Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams started Western New York Athletic Conference play Thursday night against Genesee Community College, and the results didn’t differ much from the Thunderwolves’ non-conference slates.
The NCCC men, ranked 14th in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll, beat no. 18 GCC, 103-87. The women, ranked this week for the first time in program history, topped the Cougars in a blowout of their own, 73-41.
The men’s game figured to be a shootout, featuring the sixth- and eighth-best scoring offenses in Division II. NCCC entered averaging 94.1 points per game, while GCC averaged 92.4.
The Thunderwolves (17-1, 1-0) came out on an 8-0 run, with guard Sheldon Zablotny knocking down a deep 3-pointer to cap it. NCCC’s second unit, featuring guards Davon Robinson, Chuka Ikpeze and forward Eric Hall, came in with some pretty passing, finding teammates for no-look field goals on consecutive possessions.
GCC (15-3, 1-1) closed the gap to 49-45 at half, and pulled within 61-60 with 14:22 left in the second half.
Eli Jones took over for the Thunderwolves, scoring four straight points as part of an 11-0 run that helped retake control of the game.
Jones finished with 36 points and nine rebounds. He was a menace on the offensive glass, grabbing five boards and helping NCCC win the rebounding battle 44-32.
Center Jordan Street (Niagara Falls) had another big game, going 9 for 15 from the field and finishing with 19 points and nine boards. The sophomore has gone 27 for 35 in his last three outings.
Zablotny (17), Gjaimeir Stanford (11), Hall (10) and EJ Sandoval also scored in double figures, and Sandoval had the only double-double of the game, dishing 13 assists. NCCC had 30 assists overall, which coach Bill Beilein said was a record for his tenure with the team.
“We kept telling our guys to not be afraid of making the pass that isn’t the assist pass,” Beilein said. “The next pass can be the assist going to the block. We tried to feed off dominating in the paint.”