We hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl, but there's still some boys basketball that needs to be discussed. As the season has progressed, the Niagara Frontier League and Niagara-Orleans League both have taken some twists and turns.
Niagara Falls (11-3, 8-0 NFL) has fully asserted itself, but teams like North Tonawanda (10-4, 6-3) and Lewiston-Porter (8-6, 6-2) are still alive and well. The Lumberjacks could still catch the Wolverines for the Niagara (large school) Division crown, while the Lancers will likely be waiting in the NFL crossover championship game.
Newfane (10-6, 5-3 N-O) set itself up nicely with five wins to open N-O play but has now lost its last three in the league. It'll look to keep pace with Albion (10-4, 8-2), but should be wary of teams like Wilson (10-6, 5-3) and Medina (9-9, 6-4).
With the calendar turning over to February, there are only a few weeks left of the regular season. Here's a look at what to watch out for here as the winter season keeps heating up:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Wilson at Newfane, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
The Lakemen will be looking to avenge a 55-31 loss to the Panthers on Jan. 7, which was both teams' first week back after winter break. Luke Bradley was the only Wilson player to notch double-digit figures that night, scoring a team-high 15 points.
The Panthers will need to find the formula that aided them earlier in the season, as they are reeling with two straight losses and a 2-3 record in the last five. Newfane will need Garrett Srock to get back to his early scoring pace, as his inside-outside game poses a threat.
With Bradley more of a hybrid wing/forward for the Lakemen, it will be key to see how he and Wilson's frontcourt matches up with Michael Carmer, Cade Littman and the returning Deuce Capen.
My biggest key though will be how can Wilson match Newfane's scoring. The Panthers have capable scorers like Srock, Sam Capen and Josh Everett, so the Lakemen will need to rely on the outside shooting of Bradley, Alex Martinez, Mike Miller and Ben Lyman.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Deuce Capen, Newfane
Speaking of one of the Capen brothers, Deuce made his long-awaited return on Jan. 24 in a win over Royalton-Hartland. After missing most of the season with a knee injury suffered during training camp, Deuce could be the Panthers' x-factor, showing off his skills with back-to-back double-digit scoring games.
But adjusting to his impact on the court will be what's most important, as Newfane has struggled with a 1-2 record since his return. This week the Panthers' lone matchup will be against the rival Lakemen.
Time for a turnaround
We talked about Wilson earlier and for good reason. The Lakemen might just be the hottest team in our coverage area. They've won four straight and six of the last seven in total.
When Wilson's defense is locked in, there's not much teams can do to combat it. Ever since their loss to Newfane, the Lakemen have given up just 38.7 points per game in that stretch. But they aren't the only squad to watch out for.
Niagara Wheatfield has been playing strong lately, winning three of the last four games in NFL action. TJ Robinson has been the catalyst there, as the sophomore continues to fill it up for the Falcons. Robinson is coming off of a career-high 37 points against Lockport, when the second-year varsity guard banged down another six 3s.
We've got a couple of our local programs competing in one of the best showcases around, which takes place this weekend at Williamsville North. Cardinal O'Hara plays Middle Early College at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, followed by Lew-Port and St. Joe's at 4:30 p.m.
It should be interesting to see how our Niagara Falls natives Avion Harris and Jaden Washington and the Hawks play, having won two of the last three games including a major upset over Bishop Timon where Harris (16 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) and Washington (14 points, 1 block) both played key roles.
The Lancers will have a tough battle on their hands, as the Marauders (15-4, 7-1 MMA) have been one of Western New York's toughest teams, knocking off the Falls on Friday. With Roddy Gayle Jr.'s health up in the air still, head coach Matt Bradshaw will continue to run the show with Jalen Duff, Mehki Starks and Jack Bernstein.
Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at email@example.com. Also, tune in to Khari at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on WGR 550's 'Inside High School Sports,' as well as the 'Greater WNY Sports Connection' podcast, a collaboration with Jon Simon and WNY Athletics.