Tonawanda News —
TOWN OF TONAWANDA — It wasn't the strongest start for the North Tonawanda Lumberjacks — but it was a heck of a finish.
In the first half of Wednesday night's NFL game at Kenmore East coach Ryan Mountain said the Lumberjacks got away from who they are as a team.
"We talk about getting our heads out of the clouds and keeping our feet on the ground, staying grounded and realizing who we are," he said. "I think in the first half we thought we were someone we're not. We're not a team that can just come out and bury a team in the first half."
That was Mountain's message to his players in the locker room after a seven-point second quarter. But NT came out in the second half and got back to Lumberjack basketball, Mountain said, outscoring the Bulldogs 43-23 in the final two quarters — including a run of 13-0 to close the game — cruising to a 65-35 victory.
The Jacks (8-6, 7-3 NFL) went on a 7-2 run to start the third quarter and a bulk of their scoring came in the paint. Donovan Book starred in the frame, outworking the Bulldogs' bigs to score six of his eight points.
NT forward Chris Woodard finished with 11 points and seven rebounds and said the team re-focused at half time.
"We talked about how we had to come out stronger," he said. "We were taking too many 3's in the first half. We were forcing up shots, passing it one time and then shooting. But in the second half we came out and got it into the post a lot more. We were giving up too many easy baskets on defense and we definitely stepped up our 'D' in the second half."
Deion Brown, who is still recovering from a bout with tonsillitis, played well in the second half. He scored eight of his 12 points and kept the Bulldogs within striking distance with a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter.
Mountain said his team played with energy but didn't play smart in the first half.
"Once we started taking bad shots, even when they go in, as a coach you get concerned," he said. "Especially if a couple go in early because then they think they can continue to take bad shots, and sooner or later the percentages take over. ... I thought the effort was there but it's a different mindset that effects your continuity. I think our players thought they can come out and attack and we're not built that way."
The Jacks received big contributions from their bench. Senior Kyle Martinez drained two 3-pointers in the final minute and Mountain said every player is working hard in practice so they'll be ready when their number is called.
"We want everybody coming off the bench and contributing in some way, whatever their strengths are that's what they're out there to bring," he said. "That's evident in Kyle Martinez. He's our 13th guy in off the bench and he came out and went 2 for 2 from 3-point land. That's another weapon that's focused daily in practice waiting for his time to come. He doesn't accept his role, he embraces it."
Ian Gilhousen finished with a game-high 13 points, Nehemiah Stone scored eight and Joe Piotrowski had seven points and six assists.Contact sports editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.