Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — When the Kenmore West boys basketball team is able to get out and run early in games, that is when it's at its best, said Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze.
On Friday night, in the first of two meetings against rival Kenmore East, the Blue Devils got the message from Meetze and ran wild all over the Bulldogs.
"I think I had the word 'run' circled on our board about 15 times before the game. That's when we play good," Meetze said. "You go back to the Christmas tournament and I don't think we played well because we didn't run very well. … When we run we're a fun team to watch."
The Blue Devils started the first and second quarters with 9-0 and 13-0 runs, seizing complete control of the game on their way to a convincing 63-40 victory at home in front of a packed house at Ken West High School.
The Bulldogs looked suffocated early on by Ken West's defensive pressure, as the Blue Devils picked up ball handlers at mid court and smothered them. The Bulldogs had a number of turnovers early in the game and Ken West took advantage en route to a 40-15 lead at halftime to all but put the game away.
"We haven't really liked our defense recently, but I told the guards at halftime that I was impressed because our guards were boxing out their forwards," said Meetze. "I really liked how we controlled the glass — we missed a lot of shots but we got the offensive rebounds. That was my positive at halftime. We got all those rebounds because we were outworking them, and that's what I like to see."
Noah Whalen led the way for the Blue Devils, scoring a game-high 17 points.
Meetze said Whalen's improvement this season is a direct result of his hard work in the offseason.