Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Sports

NT boys hoops falls to West in A1 semis


Trevor Book of North Tonawanda blocks a Juston Johnson shot in the Lumberjacks loss to West Seneca West in the Class A1 semis Wednesday. 
Photo by Jake French Trevor Book of North Tonawanda blocks a Juston Johnson shot in the Lumberjacks loss to West Seneca West in the Class A1 semis Wednesday. Photo by Jake French North Tonawanda boys basketball ran into a buzzsaw Wednesday as the team saw its season end with an 82-62 loss to undefeated West Seneca West at Buffalo State College in the semifinal round of the Section VI Class A1 playoffs. The Indians have yet to lose this season and have nearly been unstoppable on offense.

“They deserved to advance; we didn’t get the job done,” North Tonawanda coach Ryan Mountain said. “There’s no shame in losing to an undefeated team and I believe the No. 4 team in New York state.”

The game started off well enough, with the Lumberjacks leading 14-12 after one quarter. However, West started to heat up midway through the second quarter. The NT offense went quiet, and West started to take advantage, moving down the floor quickly and taking shots early in the shot clock. They outscored the Lumberjacks by 16 in the quarter and went to halftime with a 34-20 lead.

“We were very confident going into the game,” Mountain said. “We felt that we could defend them. We knew that their full-court press gave people fits all season. We knew we would break it and if we had a lay-up, we would take it. If not, we would run some clock. For the first 11-12 minutes, I thought we were the better team. Unfortunately, we went a little stale on offense and we started to take quick shots. West was able to convert our quick shots into quick shots of their own. Before we knew it, we were down 10. We did not close the half out the way we wanted to, so we went into the half down 14.”

That trend continued into the third quarter, even as the NT offense began to heat up again. They just couldn’t keep pace with a West Seneca West offense that poured in 27 more points in that quarter. This took the Lumberjacks out of their game plan and rhythm, forcing them to speed up on offense and press on defense. The Indians put the game out of reach by the start of the fourth, leading 61-33. Despite a 29-point fourth quarter from NT, the game never really got close again.

“We still felt good going into the second half if we played our game,” Mountain said. “Unfortunately, they scored about nine points in about 45 seconds. Once we were down 20, our game plan sort of went out the window. We were forced to take some quicker shots and press. Then it got into the up-and-down game that they play. They play it a little bit better than we do. It got away from us, which is unfortunate because it didn’t have to get away from us. If we would have kept it tight going into the fourth quarter, I felt we had the team to get the job done.”

The team finished the season 15-7, again making it to Buffalo State College for the semifinals. That’s a pretty good accomplishment considering the turnover the team had after last year’s Section VI Class A Championship.

“I’m 100 percent satisfied with our season,” Mountain said. “We won 70 percent of our games. There’s not a lot of teams that have come through North Tonawanda who can say they won 15 games and went to the final four of the sectionals. We had two players with varsity playing experience – Trevor Book and Sean Ferry. Other than that, those are the only two players with any experience. We did everything we needed to do to succeed.”

Wednesday’s game marked the final chapter of a storied career for Book, one of the most accomplished players in program history. The senior broke the school record for points scored in a season this year with 536. He averaged 25.5 points per game and shot 48 percent. He also broke the single-season record for most three-pointers with 59 and shot 39 percent from three. He set the record for the most three-point shots in a single game with eight at Kenmore West. He also broke the record for the most career three-point shots with 144. He finished his career with 1,281 points, which is an average of 19.7 points per game for his career. He’s fourth in North Tonawanda history in career points.

“Trevor is just an outstanding example of true love for the game,” Mountain said. “He has worked incredibly hard to earn the right to walk tall with pride and confidence as he leaves us as one of the program’s greatest players on some of the most successful teams. He was also a wonderful teammate who brought out the best in his teammates and also brought out the best in our opponents.”

The team had two other seniors in Sean Ferry and Kyle McNeill. Ferry finished his senior season with 8.2 points per game, 42 assists, 34 steals and 40 three-pointers. McNeill wasn’t much of a scorer, but was second on the team with 122 rebounds and third in assists with 53.

But the program will have some solid returners next season, especially in Dante Moultrie. The sophomore averaged nine points per game, shot 36 percent, hit 30 three-pointers, dished out 79 assists and racked up 40 steals. Other returners include, Nick Casterline and Noah Fox, who averaged five and four points per game, respectively. Meanwhile, the JV team went 18-2. The program appears to be in good shape heading into the future.

“We were a very young team, as well. We have a lot of talent coming back,” Mountain said. “We’re focusing on progress. Our progress should translate into motivation. If we don’t improve, we will just be average. But if we commit to dedicated improvement and team unity while holding ourselves accountable, I believe we can earn a trip back to Buffalo State. But success does not come from reputation alone, it is earned.”

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