Hello from what locals call the "Wolv-arena," the Niagara Falls High School gym, for Day One of the Cataract Classic. We've got quite a season opener for Niagara Falls and Jamestown scheduled for 8 p.m., but there are two games before that: Lancaster vs. Niagara-Wheatfield at 5 p.m. and St. Joe's-Depew at 6:30.
5:42 p.m. We arrive at halftime of the first time, get situated, and can't help but chuckle at the score. Lancaster leads, 14-8. Yes, that's halftime. Hey, it's early.
Then I found out the first quarter score. It was 3-3. OK, it's reallllly early. Actually, Lancaster has played three games, winning its own tournament and getting a great ECIC I-opening win over Clarence last night in overtime. So we'll chalk it up to back-to-back games for one team early in the season, and the season opener for the other team, which has a new coach in Erik O'Bryan, formerly of North Tonawanda.
6:02 p.m. After a much better third quarter (we appreciate not being here for the first half :-) ), Lancaster leads Niagara-Wheatfield, 27-16.
The Redskins did well running its offense to get some good shots, while it forced several turnovers by N-W.
6:16 p.m. N-W keeps scratching and clawing and O'Bryan keeps on his Falcons, but Lancaster has maintained a 10-point lead (38-28) as we head under two minutes.
6:29 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lancaster 43, Niagara-Wheatfield 34.
JJ Harrington earned MVP honors for Lancaster.
6:48 p.m. Check out the high school home page for the box score of the game -- that's a cool new feature of our new Web program, which will have futher improvements over the next few weeks.
We're about to tip off with St. Joe's and Depew.
St. Joe's starters: 5-11 senior A. Keith Louie, 5-10 senior Steven Moser, 6-3 junior Chad Kelly, 6-3 senior Connor Rehbaum and 6-5 senior Jake Spitler.
Depew starters: 5-8 senior Rick Anna, 6-5 junior Jaden Cotton, 5-11 junior Aaron Ertel, 6-3 senior Sam Sallaj and 6-1 freshman Derrick Sekuterski.
6:57 p.m. Not in the starting lineup is St. Joe's transfer Reggie Agbeko, a 6-7 junior who is likely a draw for UB assistant coach Jim Kwitchoff, who is on hand and spoke with both coaches before the tip.
6:58 p.m. Agbeko checks in with 3:22 left in the first quarter with Depew up, 3-2.
7:04 p.m. Not a great night for first quarters here at the Wolvearena. St. Joe's leads Depew, 6-3.
7:07 p.m. Depew coach Larry Jones hollers for a timeout with St. Joe's up, 10-5, with 6:44 left in the second quarter. Rehbaum just put in a very nice floater of a drive down the right side a moment ago.
7:22 p.m. We are at halftime and St. Joe's leads Depew, 16-11. The Marauders had a great final possession of the half after a timeout with less than three seconds left, and senior guard Edward Zimheld knocked down a three-pointer from the right side. Depew had played very well in the later stages of the second quarter with good defense and good passing. Joe's had gone up, 13-7, on a three by Rehbaum.
Agbeko picked up a second foul on a charge with 4:19 left in the second and sat the rest of the quarter.
7:40 p.m. Depew's Jones needs a timeout with 4:54 left in the third as St. Joe's has used some good defense to go up, 24-11. Moser had two straight steal-and-layups and Louie later added a clean rip of a ballhandler to give him a layup.
7:42 p.m. Agbeko has shown some serious flashes in the last minute or so, going up to grab a man-among-boys rebound and then going up where few players can get to finish a putback up by the rim. Just now he grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw, skying high enough that I let out a wow, high enough that the Depew player waiting to go in the game said, "that boy gets UP."
7:44 p.m. The lead for St. Joe's is 26-13 with 2:23 left in the third.
7:46 p.m. Rehbaum picked up his third foul after Moser's two steals and just reentered the game with about 1:30 left in the third.
7:48 p.m. Agbeko just picked up his fourth on a reach-in with 45.3 seconds left in the third.
7:51 p.m. After three quarters, St. Joe's leads Depew, 28-15.
7:59 p.m. St. Joe's keeps scoring in transition and now leads, 32-17. Nice crowd filing in here -- should be a great atmosphere for the Falls-Jamestown game.
8:09 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: St. Joe's 45, Depew 27. Some interviewing to do for me.
8:20 p.m. The always-fun Falls pep band is ready to go. They just changed over to new Falls coach Sal Constantino: "Hey Sal! Oooooh, nice tie!"
8:33 p.m. We're underway.
8:39 p.m. Jamestown coach Ben Drake calls a timeout with 4:04 left in the first quarter and Falls up, 11-6, on a jumper by Taijay Williams, a 5-10 junior. Other starters for Falls: 6-3 senior Marcus Feagin, 5-8 junior Jamere Ollison, 5-8 sophomore Ja'leo Wilkins and 6-5 senior Jordan Street.
Jamestown starts 5-8 sophomore Tommy Campion, 6-1 junior Jaysean Paige, 5-8 senior Joey Campion, 6-4 senior Chris Carlson and 6-3 senior Darin Butts.
8:45 p.m. A lot of action here, and Drake calls another timeout with 1:41 left in the first and Falls up, 17-11. Jordan Street has looked very, very good -- he has scored the last six points and has been more aggressive than I remember at any time last season.
8:47 p.m. Street made an unwise move to try and take a charge with two fouls. Now he's got three and heads to the bench with 50.9 seconds left in the first quarter. Rookie coach error there maybe, having him in the game with two, but, like I just wrote, he was doing some great things.
8:49 p.m. After one quarter, Falls has a 19-12 lead on Jamestown in what has been an exciting, fun-to-watch game. Constantino is hopping up and down the sidelines, has already lost his voice, and you can tell that energy has translated to his team. They're playing tough defense, have forced several turnovers, and they have gotten to the basket very well, batting balls around and basically making the game a frenetic one. Which is the way many people have wanted Falls to play for a long time.
8:54 p.m. Jaysean Paige gets up very impressively, but he's up too far, hangs on the rim and is rightly called for an technical foul.
9 p.m. Constantino calls the first timeout of his career with 3:05 left in the second quarter and Falls up, 31-16.
9:06 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Niagara Falls has a 38-19 lead on Jamestown. The Wolverines are playing some fun, hustling, frenetic basketball. There may be an urge to say, "Falls is back," but it's only halftime -- and actually, it's a different team, different playing style. I would just suggest you get out here Saturday night for Game Two.
That said, Jamestown is on the road in a super-tough place to play for its season opener, and they are a good program with a good coach. This game isn't over.
9:26 p.m. Jamestown came out in the third quarter playing very cool, ready to get back in the game and they started with a few baskets, but Falls put together another nice run to push back (45-26). Jamestown still keeps coming and Constantino takes a timeout with a little over three minutes left in the third with Falls leading, 47-33.
9:37 p.m. Things are tightening up here. At the end of the third quarter, Falls leads Jamestown, 51-38.
9:43 p.m. We've got ourselves a ball game. Falls calls a timeout with 4:11 left to play and Jamestown having cut the lead to 52-48.
9:49 p.m. Some fantastic back-and-forth action here. Wilkins has come up with steals on the last two Jamestown possessions and Williams has hit two three-pointers to help Falls hold off the Red Raiders to this point. Falls leads, 58-50, with 1:00 left in the game; timeout Jamestown as Williams heads to the line.
9:56 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 62, Jamestown 54.
I gotta write a story very quickly.
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