Niagara-Wheatfield coach Erik O’Bryan said the message is clear: Never get to high. Never get too low.
That old adage certainly rang true this week for the Falcons, who earned their second straight Niagara Frontier League win with a 65-50 triumph at Kenmore East (5-7, 2-7) Friday night.
The pair of victories for Niagara-Wheatfield (6-5, 5-3 NFL) come just a week removed from a tandem of tough road losses last week at Kenmore West and Lewiston-Porter.
In spite of a forgettable finish, O’Bryan said it feels good to get another ‘W.’
“A win is a win,” O’Bryan said. “They don’t put in the standings if you let them back in it or you didn’t do it pretty. A win is a win and these guys are happy about it.”
The Falcons widened the lead to 22 midway through the third quarter, but John Alessandra and Jakai Daniels led a Bulldogs rally in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 10.
Wheatfield, though, shot 23 of 26 from the charity stripe, including eight of 10 in the final frame to hang onto the lead.
“We haven’t been in that position, up like that,” O’Bryan said. “I think we started throwing the ball around and started getting tight. But it’s not going to ruin our night. We’re going to take it and move on.”
Jerret Smith propelled the Falcons off to 11-4 start in the first quarter, scoring nine points to give the Falcons an early lead.
Niagara-Wheatfield big man Jake Hughes took it from there, finishing with 14 points in the opening half for a game-high 26 points and 13 boards at the final buzzer.
While the Falcons were able to maintain a strong lead throughout the contest, Ken East had to deal N-W without leading scorer Dante Bono, who missed the game for disciplinary reasons.
Bono, who has missed a slew of games this season, also sat out 61-38 loss to Wheatfield back on Dec. 17 because of an ankle injury.
“Anytime you take one of the better players in the league out of the lineup, it does affect it,” O’Bryan said. “I thought (Ken East) played pretty hard tonight without him.”
After starting 4-1, the Bulldogs have won just two of their last seven.
“We played hard, we’re proud of the effort,” Ken East coach Jay Robbins said. “But we want more production. It’s the same old story. We have to play a little better on offense and a little bit better on defense.
“They shot tremendous from the foul line so you have to give them credit,” he continued. “We worked and fought hard, but when you take your 20-point guy out of the lineup, it’s tough to compensate for that.”
Daniels filled in respectably, registering a team-high 19 points. Alessandra was solid as well with 17 points, four steals and three helpers.
Smith finished with 12 points for the Falcons, while Mo Bissell shot three 3-pointers for 11 points on the night.