Niagara Gazette — With sole-possession of first place in the Niagara Frontier League on the line, Niagara Falls (7-1, 5-0) never trailed en route to an 82-58 victory over Kenmore West at Niagara Falls High School.
Despite the added magnitude of the game with both teams coming in undefeated in the league and Niagara Falls attempting to avenge a home loss to Ken West last season, the Wolverines saw the game as just any other game on the schedule.
"That's not something we talk about. We go into games ready to play one game at a time," Wolverines head coach Sal Constantino said. "I don't even know if my guys knew we were tied for first place."
The Wolverines' exploded out of the gates en route to a 20-point first quarter, fueled by a 12-4 run to start the game. Senior Jermaine Crumpton netted 14 of his 24 points in the first, while the Blue Devils (6-3, 4-1) managed just 10 as a team.
Constantino attributed the quick start to the team's ability to get Crumpton — who will play Division I at Canisius next year — involved in the offense from the start and that led to continued success the rest of the game.
"We like to get Jermaine (Crumpton) going early and he did get going early and our energy really goes from there," Constantino said.
Ken West played a majority of the game without 6-foot-7 center Quinton Campbell, who picked up two early fouls and continued through the game in foul trouble before fouling out in the fourth. He was held scoreless in the second and third quarters and finished with just just eight points. Blue Devils' head coach Mike Meetze said Campbell being limited changed the complexion of the game for his team.
"When (Campbell) gets his second foul a minute into the game, that kind of changes what we try to do," he said. "I don't think he played more than seven total minutes and that's kind of tough. Unfortunately, the kids kind of let that play in a little bit."
The Blue Devils managed to inch their way back into the game in the second quarter however, coming within as many as two points before Niagara Falls scored the last four points of the half to take a 38-30 lead into the break.
Playing the game with a short bench due due to an injury to senior point guard J.J. Wilkins, the Wolverines used halftime to get reenergized and take command in the second half.
"We had a little lull where we got fatigued, being short another body off the bench, but I think we got a little rest at halftime and I thought our energy is really what carried us to the win," Constantino said.
Ramir Burton stepped up and delivered 15 points and seven assists to make up for Wilkins' absence. Vinzell Watkins and Tikere Ralands each contributed 14 points while Crumpton added 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
After the Blue Devils pulled within six at 40-34 early in the third, the Wolverines took advantage of Campbell being on the bench and ripped off an 18-6 run the end the quarter.
The blowout win for Niagara Falls appeared to possibly be accompanied with a huge loss with 20 seconds left in the game when Crumpton laid flat on his back on the court in obvious pain. As it turned out, it was just a cramp.
"They work hard, that's what happens," Constantino said.