Niagara Gazette —
The Niagara Falls boys basketball team headed into a two-game series in Rochester this weekend with an opportunity to establish itself as one of New York State's elite.
Instead, back-to-back losses to two of Section V's top Class AA teams has put things in perspective for the Wolverine, who entered the weekend ranked as the No. 4 Class AA team in New York State.
"We had a chance this weekend to play two very good teams, and a chance to beat two very good teams," NF coach Sal Constantino said. "Right now, we're a good team, but to be a very good team, we have to beat some of these teams."
After losing the No. 25 Webster Schroeder on Saturday, the Wolverines (12-3) had an opportunity to redeem themselves against Bishop Kearney, an honorable mention, but instead lost to the Kings, 62-52 on Sunday in what was a rematch of Niagara Falls' season-opening win in the Cataract Classic.
In the opener, the Wolverines were able to use their advantage in speed to harass the Kings (7-7) into turnovers and keep their bigs, namely 6-foot-7 sophomore Thomas Bryant, away from the basket.
This time, however, Bryant took his game to the paint, scoring a game-high 20 points. He and 6-foot-9 center Chinonso Obokoh, who's committed to Syracuse, limited much of what Niagara Falls wanted to do on offense, holding the Wolverines to their third-lowest scoring output of the season.
Steffon Caffee led two Wolverines in double figures with 12 points, while Ramir Burton added 10.
Top players J.J. Wilkins and Jermaine Crumpton combined for 16.
"Some of our guys had great weekends," Constantino said. "I thought Tikere (Ralands) and Steffon had great weekends, and Vinzell (Watkins) played well today.
"Our big guns are really going to have to step up a bit. This made them hungry, though, and I know they're going to work harder to play better next time."
The Wolverines finish their regular season with three more Niagara Frontier League games before heading into sectionals. They play at Kenmore West on Tuesday, then host Lockport on Friday for Senior Night.