Tonawanda News — TONAWANDA – The Kenmore West Blue Devils’ boys basketball team won a nail-biter against the Cardinal O’Hara Hawks by a score of 58-55 at the Ken-Ton Holiday Classic on Friday.
The win was one that the Blue Devils were fortunate to get, according to head coach Mike Meetze.
“We got lucky today,” Meetze said. “When you look at the stats, I think (the Hawks) beat us in almost every category. Defensively, we played atrocious. We didn’t play good team ball, we got into a lot of foul trouble… We got a little intimidated out there and we sort of went into a shell. Luckily, we were able to do enough in the fourth quarter to escape with a win.”
The Blue Devils and Hawks went toe-to-toe throughout the first three quarters of the game, with the Hawks holding a 41-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Senior guard Alex Price then came through for the Blue Devils in a big way, hitting multiple clutch shots to finish the game with 21 points and to eke out the victory.
“Alex became Alex in the fourth quarter,” Meetze said. “He had to step his game up going into the last period of play, and when your game isn’t going well, you need to have your stars step up and make plays. Alex put the team on his shoulders and made a huge difference for us.”
Conversely, the Hawks felt as if they had done everything they could in order to win. That made the loss especially difficult to swallow, according to head coach Dave Pfohman.
“We played against a quality team in their house, and I think we surprised them a little,” Pfohman said. “You try to take everything that’s positive out of a game like this, but the final outcome just didn’t fall our way. It hurts.”
A few crucial plays also occurred for other players in the fourth quarter to swing the game in the Blue Devils’ favor. Senior Noah Whalen hit a go-ahead two-point shot with 25 seconds left to give the team the lead and senior Tyler Grandits sank a free throw to increase the lead to three a few seconds later.
A last-gasp three point attempt by Hawks senior Zack Glowacki fell short with 0.4 seconds remaining.
“When you play against a good team like Ken West, who has a lot of talent, and you play against them tough, you can tell that your team is heading in the right direction,” Pfohman said. “We’re coming together, and I’m still pleased with how we’ve done overall this year. Hopefully the type of effort we gave tonight will still be there the rest of the season.”
Sweet Home 68, Kenmore East 42
TONAWANDA – The Sweet Home Panthers boys’ basketball team survived an early scare from the Kenmore East Bulldogs on Friday and won, 68-42, at the Ken-Ton Holiday Classic.
After seeing a 20-7 lead after one quarter turn into just a nine point lead by halftime, the Panthers (2-3) used the second half to their advantage by outscoring the Bulldogs (2-4) 37-20.
“It was a good outcome for us, for sure,” Panthers head coach Scott Martin said. “A big point of emphasis for our team is to hold our opponents to 40 points or less, because if you do that, you have a good shot at winning. I think our defense played pretty well today, and it was a big factor in the win.”
The effectiveness of the Panthers’ defense was evident on the score sheet, as not a single player on the Bulldogs’ roster was able to crack double digits. The Bulldog’s leading scorer for the day, sophomore Adam Tucker, was only able to muster nine points.
“If you want to win ballgames, the formula to do it is no big secret,” Bulldogs head coach Jay Robbins said. “You can’t turn the ball over, you have to have good ball movement and you have to be able to make your free throws. All of those things, you can control. We didn’t do well in any of those categories today, and we dug ourselves too big of a hole that we couldn’t climb out of.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was the biggest reason why the game stayed so close through the first two quarters. Playing a 3-2 zone defense, the Bulldogs attempted to take away the Panthers’ perimeter shooting, which had much success in the first quarter.
“Truth be told, we probably should have used a timeout a little bit sooner because their zone defense was bothering our guys because it was taking away from our strengths,” Martin said. “I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half of adjusting to their strategy and figuring out a way to score. Good thing we did, too, because who knows what would have happened if we didn’t solve their defense.”
Tonawanda 60, Olmstead 41
Tristan Boling scored 32 points and Ben Stich had a double-double, scoring 16 and adding 10 steals for the Warriors (4-4) in the consolation game of the West Seneca West Christmas Tournament. Connor Pumm had a big day on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds to go with eight points. Stich was voted to the All-Tournament team.
St. Joe’s 65, Cheektowaga 59
The Marauders could muster only two points in the second quarter but then exploded for 24 in the final quarter, pulling out a 65-59 win over Cheektowaga at the St. Joe’s Tournament on Friday.
Justin Hollins led St. Joe’s with 20 points, including two successful 3-point shots. Justin Jones had 16 points.
Dominick Welch led the Warriors with 25 points.
St. Joe’s will face Buffalo’s Middle Early College High School today at 5:15 p.m.
St. Joe’s 4, Bishop Guertin 0
James Bassett, Dom Perna, Justin Crawford and Brad Herlan all scored and Peter Chopra earned a 20-save shutout for the Marauders (5-5-0-1), who advanced to the championship of the Mount St. Charles Holiday Faceoff in Woonsocket, RI. They’ll take on Bishop Hendricken, from Rhode Island, in the final at 6 p.m. tonight.