WILLIAMSVILLE - Jamestown figured to need a big game out of top scorer Tommy Campion Tuesday night if it was going to defeat division-leading Williamsville North, a team that had beaten the Red Raiders by 14 points earlier this month.
As the final buzzer sounded, a look down at the scorebook showed that Campion was limited to just nine points, 12 below his season average.
But a look up at the scoreboard showed that Jamestown had won the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 showdown, 55-46.
QUINN LEE YAW
P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg
With the Spartans' focusing much of their defensive effort on Campion, the senior got plenty of help from his teammates, most notably sophomore Branden Kellam, who scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Kellam teamed with fellow big man Quinn Lee Yaw - who finished with eight points, 16 rebounds and five assists to dominate the interior on both ends of the floor.
Jamestown's 2-3 zone defense did the rest, forcing Williamsville North to shoot the majority of its shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
''The story of the game was the fact that this was the first game that Tommy scored in single digits and for us to come up here on the road and beat North with Tom scoring nine points really says a lot about those guys' development,'' Jamestown coach Ben Drake said. ''They just played great tonight.''
After the Spartans jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the game's opening minutes, it was Kellam and Lee Yaw who turned the tide. Each scored a pair of baskets in an 8-0 run that put the Red Raiders (7-1, 12-2) on top.
''We really have been focusing hard on getting them the ball inside and working that high-low,'' Drake said. ''Credit to everybody else for executing it. They did a great job of working together tonight and hooking each other up with some high-low passes. That really is huge for us.''
Sterling Taplin, Williamsville's all-Western New York first team guard, scored 20 points to lead the Spartans, but Drake was pleased with where he scored most of those points from: behind the 3-point line. In the Spartans' 63-49 victory over Jamestown a few weeks ago, Taplin scored 21 points, mostly by attacking the basket. But on Tuesday he had four 3-pointers and just three two-point field goals.
''The first time around I thought we just have him too many opportunities, especially going to the basket,'' Drake said. ''Tonight we did a great job really limiting his penetration. We tried to make him shoot threes and I thought defensively we did a nice job of executing that tonight.''
As a team, the Spartans made 9 of 28 from beyond the arc and 8 of 23 from inside the arc.
''I thought we settled,'' Williamsville North coach Chuck Swierski said. ''I thought we could have attacked more and we didn't. That's what I tried to tell them in every timeout but for whatever reason I mean, we got good looks. We didn't force threes, but we didn't hit them.''
Jamestown, meanwhile, did most of its damage down low. The Red Raiders shot 22-for-50 overall, 2-for-5 from 3-point range.
Taplin guarded Campion tightly throughout the game, but Kellam and Lee Yaw were able to get key baskets whenever Jamestown needed one.
After Willliamsville North took an 18-15 lead midway through the second quarter, Kellam scored six straight points the last two on a fast-break dunk to put the Red Raiders back on top, 21-15.
Jamestown took a 24-21 lead into halftime thanks to a Campion 3-pointer with two seconds left in the half Campion's first points of the game but Taplin scored the first four points of the third period to give Williamsville North a one-point lead.
It would be the Spartans' last lead of the game, however, as Campion scored back-to-back baskets to start a 10-0 run that was finished by a Lee Yaw dunk and a short jumper by Kellam that gave Jamestown a 34-25 advantage with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Red Raiders' lead never dipped below six points the rest of the way.
''Sterling did a fantastic job on Tommy,'' Swierski said. ''Obviously we don't want Tommy to beat us and you kind of roll the dice and pick your poison with Jamestown. Kellam got us and Quinn did a nice job for them, too. They're long, they're athletic and they're well-coached. And I hate to say it but Jamestown wanted it more than Williamsville North tonight.''
David Berkun had 11 points for the Spartans, while Zack Panebianco added nine points and six rebounds for the Red Raiders, who grabbed control of the race for the league title with the win.
''We just have to finish out strong,'' Drake said. ''We knew tonight that the ECIC championship was pretty much on the line. Not taking anything for granted because we still have a few games left but we knew that this was a huge game for both of us coming in with one league loss and now being in the driver's seat, we just have to keep playing hard.''
Campion 4 0 9, Kellam 11 3 25, Lee Yaw 4 0 8, Panebianco 3 2 9, Carlson 0 3 3, Colwell 0 1 1, Totals 22 9 55.
WILLIAMSVILLE NORTH (46)
Taplin 7 2 20, Berkun 4 1 11, Attea 3 0 6, Washington 3 0 9, Jack 0 0 0, Davis 0 0 0, Totals 17 3 46.
3-point goals: Taplin 4, Washington 3, Berkun 2, Campion, Panebianco.
Jamestown 13 11 13 18 55
Williamsville North 13 8 8 17 - 46