The stars were out and the stands were packed. The gym was filled to capacity long before the junior varsity game ended and fans were turned away at the door as the top two teams in the Niagara Frontier League took the court with first-place on the line.
In other words, it was business as usual for the Niagara Falls High School boys basketball team.
In the NFL’s biggest game of the season to date, the Wolverines used a dominant second-half performance and posted an impressive 78-60 win over Lewiston-Porter on Friday night.
“It’s just another win, to be honest,” Niagara Falls sophomore Jalen Bradberry said. “We came into the game, we knew we were going to win. You saw the crowd, it was a fun win but I wouldn’t say it was a big win. It was a league game, it wasn’t playoffs, it wasn’t states …”
The game was for the NFL lead and the Wolverines got there in convincing fashion. After a back-and-forth first half, Niagara Falls broke open a tight game with an 18-3 run to start the third quarter and was never really threatened again.
“The last word we put on the board was composure,” Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino said. “If we keep our composure, things will go our way. And I think that’s what happened in the second half.”
Lew-Port came out strong in front of an overflow crowd so large the school was forced to turn fans away at the door and stream the game live on its YouTube site. The Lancers led for the majority of the first half and took a 33-31 lead into halftime – but it was all Falls from there.
“I’m not all that discouraged,” Lancers coach Matt Bradshaw said. “We left a lot out there in the first half. We left some free throws out there, we left some layups out there, I think we could have been up eight points at halftime and then maybe we would have been able to withstand that spirt they had in the third quarter.”
Niagara Falls star freshman Willie Lightfoot was limited to five points in the first half, but he more than made up for that in the second. He scored 11 points in the third quarter – including a 3-pointer with three seconds left – and the Wolverines turned that two-point deficit after two quarters into a 13-point lead after three.
“That was Willie and those guys making shots,” Constantino said. “I didn’t draw that up, I can tell you that. Once those kids get that momentum going and make that extra pass, sometimes I sit back like a fan and watch them…and sometimes I get up like a coach and start screaming and hollering.”
Lightfoot scored 24 points to lead Niagara Falls (14-2 overall, 9-0 NFL). Bradberry added 17, Jaemon Turner scored 15, Moran Montgomery added 11, and Josiah Harris had 9 for the Wolverines.
The game was also a reunion of sorts for Lew-Port standout freshman Roddy Gayle, who helped lead Niagara Falls to the Class AA sectional championship last season before transferring in the offseason. He was limited to seven points, hindered by an ankle injury suffered in the second quarter, and foul trouble which ultimately led to fouling out early in the fourth.
Standout senior Trent Scott picked up the slack, leading the Lancers with 24 points. With the loss Lew-Port fell to 12-1, 7-1 in the league.
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