Amherst boys hoops earn character wins
It was a tale of two halves in Amherst Central’s non-league road win at Newfane on Thursday.
Up 47-21 at halftime, the Tigers held on for a 76-70 victory to improve to 3-3.
“We played our best half and worst half of basketball in the same game,” said Amherst coach Mike Chatelle.
The game was tied at 13-13 after the first quarter before Amherst outscored Newfane 34-8 in the second quarter, 18 points coming from Chris France and another 10 from Cordell Freeman. Freeman dropped 29 points total and made 10-of-12 free throws in a run-and-gun fourth quarter. France finished with a career high 26 points and hit 9-of-10 free throws.
“The second quarter was the best we’ve ran all year,” said Chatelle. “I also thought the first half was a great team effort, especially defensively. We really made them work for shots. Our pressure seemed to bother them in the first half. We played at a very high level.”
Newfane outscored Amherst, 17-7, in the third quarter to trail, 54-38, and beat the Tigers, 32-22, in the fourth. Chatelle said the closest Newfane got was 73-68 with a minute left.
Kurt Ebsary (seven points) and the all-around play of Viron Hale (two points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) also helped Amherst to the win.
“Viron was just all over the place,” Chatelle said. “He was very active deflecting passes and making a few steals.”
The roles were reversed for the Tigers in its 60-52 home win over Hamburg last Tuesday.
Down 19-4 in the middle of the first quarter, the Tigers switched from a man to man to zone defense, turned up the defensive intensity, and scored the last seven points of the quarter to trail 19-11. Amherst cut the deficit to three, 30-27, by halftime, was ahead, 40-39, after the third quarter, and outscored the Bulldogs, 20-13, in the fourth.
“I was impressed with how we came back,” said Chatelle. “A lot of teams down 19-4 in the first quarter could have just packed their bags and let the game slip away. We really stepped up and showed a lot of character which was very nice to see.”
Freeman led all scorers with 23 points despite sitting the entire third quarter with three fouls he picked up in the first half. He had eight in the second quarter and another 13 in the fourth. Amherst scored its last seven points from the foul line, 4-of-6 from Freeman and 2-of-2 from Hale.
Will Gowen chipped in a career high 13 points and was good on the offensive and defensive boards, Chatelle said.
France added nine points.
Amherst, 1-1 in ECIC Division II, hopes to build on both wins with a non-league home game with Clarence at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Tigers follow with a home game with Iroquois at the same time on Friday, Jan. 5.
Williamsville East’s first loss in ECIC Division II is a defeat Flames coach Dennis Belote would like to forget.
East (2-1, 5-3) shot 13-of-54 from the field and 5-of-11 from the free throw line as the Flames fell, 59-49, at home on Thursday to Lake Shore (2-1, 5-3).
“We got 54 shots off and most were good looks at the basket,” he said. “We just didn’t make anything and couldn’t pick it up on defense like we usually do.”
Brian Wallden, East’s usual main scoring threat, was triple-teamed and held to four points on 3-of-11 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. Justin Andreozzi led East with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Rick Silvestri added 10 points. Andy Heim had seven points. Aaron Tichenor came off the bench to score five points and haul in five rebounds.
Jake Fladd led Lake Shore with 27 points.
East led 17-15 after the first quarter but Lake Shore outscored the Flames 15-5 in the second quarter to lead 30-22 by halftime. Lake Shore was ahead 44-36 after the third quarter.
East looks to rebound at 6 p.m. Thursday against Riverside in the first round of the Clarence Booster Club Tournament held at Clarence High School. The winner plays Clarence or Niagara-Wheatfield on Friday.