Tonawanda News — With energetic guard Nehemiah Stone missing in action because of a death in the family, the North Tonawanda basketball team needed somebody to step up and make up for the missing production.
Sophomore forward Chris Woodard was up to the challenge Monday night, finishing with a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds), but it wasn't enough as NT missed 10 free throws and about a dozen layups en route to a 53-49 loss to Lew-Port (6-7, 4-7 NFL) on senior night.
"You have to make your inside shots when you're the bigger, stronger team and you have to hit your free throws. So we deserved the loss," said NT coach Ryan Mountain.
The Jacks (9-8, 8-5 NFL) trailed most of the game and seemed ready to make a run several times, but the Lancers had an answer for everything.
Lew-Port coach Matt Bradshaw said his team had been in many games like Monday night's slugfest, and was happy to see his players answer his challenge.
"I challenged the guys at halftime, I said 'We've been in a lot of games like this when we're up at half. We've been here before. What are we going to do different this time? They're not going to lay down for us; we have to go out and take it from them.' I think our guys went out and met the challenge and did a great job," Bradshaw said.
Half way through the third quarter the Jacks trailed 25-22 and were in desperate need of an offensive spark. Senior Ian Gilhousen went hard to the basket at the end of a stagnant possession and missed the running layup, but Woodard was right there to pick up the offensive rebound — one of nine in the game — and put it up and in.
The Lancers inbounded the ball and brought it up near half court, where Gilhousen picked off an errant pass and drove it all the way to the basket. He threw down a big slam dunk and the NT portion of the crowd erupted, but the Lancers stayed composed and rattled off a 6-0 run in response to regain some momentum.