By Nick Veronica
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Kenmore West’s Quinton Campbell is 6-foot-7 and is the type of player opposing teams usually need to double team down low. But his performance Friday at rival Kenmore East should serve as warning for upcoming opponents: don’t leave him open from beyond the arc, either.
Campbell nailed four 3-pointers — including three in a momentum-swinging, third-quarter surge — on his way to a game-high 20 points that lifted the Blue Devils to a convincing, 64-47 win, exactly two weeks since they needed overtime to beat East in the Ken-Ton Winter Classic.
“There’s a dirty secret,” West coach Mike Meetze said after the game with a smirk. “He’s either my best 3-point shooter or my second-best in practice. He probably has the best form. I don’t let him play him there because people will look at me like ‘Why do you have a 6-7 kid on the perimeter?’ But he can do that. And we might have to do that a little more. He was feeling it in transition tonight and you can tell when he gets that big smile, things are going to happen.”
It looked like anyone’s game at halftime. East jumped out to a 10-2 lead and was ahead most of the way before West took its first lead on a Noah Whalen 3-pointer with less than a minute to go in the half. It was only a three-point game at the break, with West up 30-27.
But the Blue Devils dominated the third quarter. They opened with 10 straight points and just kept scoring and scoring, eventually making it a 24-1 run spanning most of the quarter.
The Bulldogs’ first field goal after halftime came with four seconds left in the third quarter.
“We came out firing quick in the first half, which is good and it gave us momentum, but it was tough to get the momentum back in the second [half] and it just killed us,” Ken East senior guard John Becker said. “When you come out as hard as we did today sometimes it’s hard to match that energy in the second, too.”
For Campbell, the first half was unsatisfactory. He knew he needed to give his team more and he stayed cool in the clutch.
“I don’t really feel pressure. I don’t really want to put myself on a pedestal but I feel like when it's time to step up, I come to play,” Campbell said. “We did what we were supposed to on defense and easy shots came to us. It all comes from hard work. That’s what we preach.”
After a first half that dragged along with free throw after free throw, the pace of the second half was much faster. West got steals and scored in bunches. And it was Campbell, of course, who capped the run with great individual play.
After making an acrobatic move for a layup, West got the ball right back and sent it to Campbell for a 3. Next time up the floor was more of the same: another shot Campbell stroked from behind the arc.
When it was said and done, West had all but demoralized East and led 54-32 after three quarters.
“I told them when we came out, we’re going helter-skelter,” Meetze said. “And they all laughed, but I said yeah, we need to get this game ugly and up-tempo because we don’t want to play against their zone.”
East led throughout the first half and had a chance to break it open when West’s starters got into foul trouble. But the Blue Devils' bench stepped up to close the gap. Whalen was effective and was West’s leading scoring at halftime with 10 points.
“Not only did the bench guys close [the gap], we were up by three at halftime,” Meetze said. “It could have been bad if we were down eight or 10 like the way we started. That’s where I gave the credit.”
Pat Schroeder led East with 13 points while Mike Crawford and Deion Brown had eight. Whalen finished with 14 for West and Terell Ford had nine.
West is now 2-0 against East this year, including a 51-46 overtime win exactly two weeks earlier. The schools meet for the final time this year on Feb. 8.