Williamsville North coach Chuck Swierski sat at the end of the visitor's bench suffering from a head cold, one made all the more worse by his team's loss, 62-53 - the Spartans' third in a row - just moments before to the Jamestown Red Raiders.
Out of ideas on how to slow Ben Drake's team down, he finally came up with one.
"We'll have to send a mole into Ben's locker room to see what he tells them, or what he feeds them," he said. "They come out fast, but that's what you expect when you come to Jamestown."
Jamestown’s Quinn Lee Yaw shoots over Williamsville North’s David Bemin during Wednesday’s ECIC Division 1 basketball game at McElrath Gymnasium. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Swierski's Spartans (4-4, 2-2) were ready for the hometown team's usual fast start at the beginning of the game and had built a five-point lead after holding the Red Raiders to just nine points -Adam Cecchini kept Jamestown (6-1, 3-0) afloat by scoring seven of those nine - in the opening period, but with that door closed, Drake and his squad held on and waited to make their move at the start of the second half instead.
"At the beginning of the game I tried to warn (my team) that Jamestown is notorious for starting fast, especially at home," Swierski continued. "Maybe I should have warned them about the third quarter, too."
At half in the locker room there were no secret meals, however, just a coach and his staff pinpointing errors and, in turn, the players adjusting and correcting those mistakes.
The top adjustment was improving on defense. On the other end of the court, Drake directed that his guards feed the ball into the post more often, particularly to 6-foot-3 forward Quinn Lee Yaw.
"Williamsville North was playing behind the post all night, and in the first half we didn't throw it down there enough," Drake said. "So that was one thing that we talked about at halftime - getting the ball inside if they were going to play behind and trying to get some buckets down low."
Lee Yaw was ready for the increased workload as he started the third by scoring four of the team's first six during a 6-0 run that grew a slim lead into a larger 10-point advantage, 35-25, midway through the period. After tallying just five points in the opening half, Lee Yaw netted 13 in the second to lead the Red Raiders to the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 victory.
Along with the team-high 18 points, the sophomore pulled down 11 rebounds, six of which came off the offensive glass.
"Quinn did a nice job of converting and taking advantage of his opportunities," Drake said.
Over the final 4 minutes of play in the third quarter Jamestown's defense buckled down, as both the communication and rebounding improved, to hold Williamsville North to just four points during that span.
"I thought defensively we played with a little more intensity in the third quarter," Drake said, "and we converted on a couple of makes. One thing I stressed at halftime was getting off to a good start in the third and trying to increase our lead."
Along with Lee Yaw, Tommy Campion, who finished with 16 points, three assists and no turnovers, drained a runner, Adam Cecchini scored on a fast break and then Campion finished with a 3-pointer after breaking the Spartan's press to cap an 11-4 run to expand the lead to 46-34 heading into the final quarter.
"I said to the team in the locker room (after the game), 'In a 32-minute game we played really well for about 28 or 29 minutes,'" Swierski said.
In the fourth Williamsville did its best to regain the advantage. Led by standout Sterling Taplin, who finished with 23 points and six rebounds, the Spartans cut the deficit to just four points, 48-44, with five minutes remaining in the game. Taplin, who had been held rather quiet for the opening three quarters - he scored 11 points - became a one-man team in the fourth by scoring 12 of the 19 total.
"He was a one-man show," Drake said. "He's tough and we had a hard time with him. Once we got the lead he took matters into his own hands and on a few possessions there it seemed like it was one on five."
Despite Taplin's efforts, four points would be the closest the Spartans could get as Lee Yaw hit a jumper down low and connected on 5 of 6 free throws during the period. Kareem Walker added another make in the paint and then over the final minute of play Campion sank 3 of 4 free throws to clinch the victory.
For the most part, Drake was pleased with the Red Raiders' performance in the win.
"We just have to have a little more offensive consistency," he said. "I thought after the first quarter we played hard. I didn't think we got off to a very good start and they came out more aggressive and more intense than we were. That can't happen, especially at home, but we bounced back and played well in the second quarter and the middle part of the game."
Jamestown will next square off against Sweet Home on Friday in a road battle.
In the jayvee game, Ben Larson scored 16 points, Josh Colwell 10 and the Red Raiders improved to 5-0 on the year with a 65-48 victory over the Spartans.
WILLIAMSVILLE NORTH (53)
Taplin 6 10 23, Bangert 5 2 12, Bemin 2 0 6, Butler 2 0 4, Attea 1 0 2, Washington 1 0 3, Konotopski 1 0 3. Totals 18 12 53.
Cecchini 5 1 9, Campion 6 3 16, Lee Yaw 6 6 18, Panebianco 2 0 5, Kellam 2 0 4, Diaz 2 0 6, Walker 1 2 4. Totals 24 12 62.
3-point goals: Taplin, Bemin 2, Washington, Konotopski, Campion, Panebianco, Diaz 2.
Williamsville North14 11 9 19 - 53
Jamestown9 20 17 16 - 62
Jayvees: Jamestown 65, Williamsville North 48.