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Saturday Evening Live from the Cataract Classic: Falls beats Aquinas in a thriller; Will South edges Canisius; Will North beats Batavia; Niagara Catholic wins at buzzer (with video)

Hello again from the Cataract Classic for day two of the fine early-season event. Plenty of action for hoop fans today here at Niagara Falls.

I'm just in from the 24th annual Western New York High School Sports football award run by Dick Gallagher, once again a great celebration of the best in high school football -- on and off the field. 

3:55 p.m. I'm pleased to see that the Batavia-Williamsville North game is just under way. I was hoping to get here for the end and I'll be able to see much more. It was scheduled for a 3 p.m. start. 

Here's the report of the two earlier games: Wilson scored a very nice win in overtime (thus the time delay), 61-59 over St. Mary's. Amherst lost to Section V small school power Charles Finney, 53-44.

4:10 p.m. At halftime, Williamsville North leads Batavia, 26-20. North has looked very impressive. Freshman Sterling Taplin has showed off his multi-faceted game by hitting a three and orchestrating some very nice passes. Six-foot-4 senior Farhan Hussain has been very nice inside on both ends, blocking a few shots. Junior guard Nick Konotopsky has hit a three as well. Just a good-looking team facing a very strong program in two-time defending Section V champion Batavia.

4:39 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Williamsville North leads Batavia, 38-31. Taplin hit two big threes in the last two minutes after Batavia had cut the lead to 32-30.

5:34 p.m. My apologies. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville North 56, Batavia 53.

Juggling a lot here and was watching quite a game. Taplin had a major game for the Spartans with 28 points and six three-pointers, five of them in the second half, and all of them important as Will North beat one of the top programs in the state.

5:38 p.m. We are under way with one of the best matchups of the day, Canisius and Will South. Might be a big day for Williamsville. Hmm.

6 p.m. Will South had a 20-15 lead after the first quarter after a last-second three-pointer by Phil Stasiak.

South is up, 31-21, with 4:02 left after three three-pointers by Joe Licata, the last of which he was fouled on and he hit the free throw for a four-point play.

6:06 p.m. Canisius calls a timeout with 1:20 left in the second quarter with South leading, 32-26.

6:09 p.m. At HALFTIME, Will South leads Canisius, 32-29. Really good half. Time for some housekeeping here. Going to try and get a photo up from the football banquet and update the basketball box scores from today.

6:29 p.m. Timeout by Will South coach Al Monaco with 4:01 left in the third quarter and South up, 41-37.

6:48 p.m. After the third quarter, Canisius took a 52-44 lead. Great quarter for Canisius: 23-12, including a 19-1 run to go up 10 (52-42).

We have a timeout on the floor with 6:00 left in the game and Canisius up, 54-53, as South has started very well in the fourth. Dan Schaus went off the court with apparently a bloody nose.

6:54 p.m. Great series for South on both ends and they have a 60-58 lead with 3:31 left in the game. Some good defense and great ball movement for the Billies.

6:57 p.m. Timeout Canisius with 2:08 left with South up, 62-61. Nevins just finished a nice coast-to-coast drive, elevating his way through the lane.

7:07 p.m. WOW. We have a FINAL SCORE: In a thriller of a finish, Williamsville South 68, Canisius 67.

Erik Hansen hit a three-pointer with about five seconds left to give South the victory. In the final two minutes, Canisius junior guard Matt Hart and Hansen traded two threes apiece. Crazy, awesome stuff. Hart hit a three for a 64-62 lead for Canisius, Hansen hit one to get the lead back at 65-64, Hart did it again to put Canisius up, 67-65. Will South missed a three by Licata, but they had the ball with 12 seconds left and called a timeout, after which Hansen hit the winning three.

Aaron Nevins -- who has some buzzer-beating shots to his name -- got off a shot but it just missed at the buzzer. Whew.

Here are the highlights:

8:10 p.m. Still catching up on a ton. Niagara Catholic leads East Aurora, 26-20, at halftime.

9 p.m. What a finish to the fifth game of the day as Niagara Catholic beats East Aurora, 55-53, on a buzzer-beating jumper in the lane by freshman guard Johnathan Jackson.

9:18 p.m. We are under way with Niagara Falls and Aquinas.

9:29 p.m. After the first quarter, Aquinas is looking pretty great as it has taken a 17-6 lead at Niagara Falls. Great handling of the pressure, great ball movement, nice finishing inside and out (two threes).

9:35 p.m. Aquinas calls a timeout with 6:42 left in the second quarter owning a 17-8 lead.

9:45 p.m. With 2:24 left in the second quarter, Falls calls a timeout after a loose ball scramble; Aquinas leads, 23-13.

9:52 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Falls has done well to get itself back in the game; Aquinas leads, 23-20. Taijay Williams hit a three-pointer late in the quarter and hit a full-speed pull-up floater in the final seconds to cut the Little Irish lead to three.

Niagara Falls Pep Band has Lady Gaga's Bad Romance in its playlist. I like it.

10:25 p.m. Sorry folks, had to write my story for the first deadline.

Falls fought back to tie the game at 36-36 after three quarters. With 5:30 left in the game, Aquinas is up, 39-38.

10:27 p.m. With 4:25 left, Aquinas coach Mike Grosodonia calls a timeout. Alex Baron, a 6-5 senior, hit a three-pointer on the Little Irish's previous possession to give them a 42-40 lead.

10:35 p.m. What a game (and what a day, huh?). We are tied at 44-44 with Falls coach Sal Constantino having just called a timeout with 55.4 seconds left and 31 seconds on the shot clock for Falls.

10:42 p.m. Did I just say what a game, what a day?

We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 47, Aquinas 44; thanks to a three-pointer with the shot clock running down by 6-3 sophomore Jermaine Crumpton, who is not exactly who you would expect to be hitting threes for Falls. 

Aquinas got the ball back with 15.9 seconds left, and after a few fouls to give by Falls, Jammal Coleman's three bounced off the rim a few times and out -- the buzzer sounded as the rebound was batted around. What a finish. 

Great win for Falls, great start for them and coach Constantino. And an epic day here at the Classic.

Off to do interviews and add to my story.

Here is the video from the Falls game: a great exchange of baskets in the last minute (check out the transition basket by Falls, coach Constantino's contortions, and the Aquinas three in the last seconds that was correctly waved off because it was a foul on the floor. Whew).

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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