By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Adam Fron only had one steal Wednesday night. But it was probably the biggest one of his career.
How important was it?
It set the tone as No. 6-seed Kenmore West beat No. 11 Niagara-Wheatfield, 53-40 in the Section VI Class AA pre-quarterfinals and lifted the Blue Devils to a quarterfinal showdown at No. 3 Williamsville North on Friday.
A tooth-and-nail battle all the way, the Blue Devils clung to a 41-35 lead with just under five minutes to play in the game when Fron (11 points/seven rebounds) made the play of the night.
He was at mid-court when he stole the ball on an inbound pass, raced up court and dropped a lay-up that electrified the Blue Devil Army and gave West a 43-35 lead with 4:47 to play.
With the game being a four/five point swing since the start of the fourth quarter, Fron’s bucket gave his team some much needed breathing room.
“I was originally guarding the inbound guy and coach told me to double (Jack) Mulcahy — their big shooter. The minute I saw the guy come up from the double screen, he came up to the ball and when he flashed across me I just snuck around him and got my one hand in there and stole the ball,” Fron said. “And I had a full head of steam going down the court on my right side and I put it in.”
Less than a minute later Joel Northrup drained a 3-pointer that put Ken-West up 46-35.
Having topped the Falcons in both regular season games, the most recent just six days prior, Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze, who strongly believes in the old saying it’s tough to beat the same team three times in one season, knew the Falcons would be a gritty group to contend with.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from a coach Erik O’Bryan team,” he said.
The Blue Devils jumped to an early lead as Alex Price and Quinton Campbell (21 points/12 rebounds) hit back-to-back 3’s to open the game.
But Mulcahy, the Falcons’ captain, got his team into the game as he drove to the hoop and scored six of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter.
Knowing that Campbell would be tough to stop inside, O’Bryan said the game plan was to neutralize Blue Devils point guard Alex Price by slowing the tempo. Which the Falcons did to a degree, but there was no way to plan for Fron’s key play.
“The Fron kid played very well for them tonight and that was the x-factor,” O’Bryan said. “What we wanted to do game-wise was get into a half court game and obviously take away Price.”
While communication was a major concern for Ken West during the third quarter, Fron’s steal gave them the momentum swing they needed to put the game on ice.
“I was happy with our team effort,” Meetze said. “We bent, but we didn’t break. They still only had 40 points, you win this game. Our offense wasn’t great, a lot of credit to (Wheatfield), but got the ball where we needed it getting 36 points in the post.”