The first 60 seconds couldn’t have gone any better for the Spartans. Junior sensation Sterling Taplin blocks the opening shot attempt of the game taken by Jamestown’s Tommy Campion. David Berkun streaks the other way and Taplin delivers a pass in stride for the assist. After a stop, BANG, Taplin bombs a ’3′, and it’s 5-0 North. Would this be another dominant showing from the Spartans? Not if the Jamestown bigs had anything to say about it…and they had a lot to say.
The Red Raiders looked inside early, stayed with a good thing, and eventually pulled away from the Spartans, winning the highly anticipated rematch of ECIC I foes, 55-46. If Jamestown wins the remainder of its league games, they would capture a third straight ECIC I title, lock up the top seed in Class AA, and avoid a potential semifinal game against top ranked Niagara Falls.
After the quick start from North, the Red Raiders scored eight straight in response, taking the lead and forcing a momentum squelching timeout. By the end of the first quarter, the teams were locked at 13. Williamsville North sank three treys in the quarter (Taplin 2, Berkun), while Jamestown got 11 of its 13 points from the towering tandem of sophomore Brandan Kellam and junior Quinn Lee Yaw.
Aman Washington drained a pair from downtown for the Spartans in the second quarter, to offset another six points from Kellam. The teams were still llocked in a tie, 21-21, until Tommy Campion scored his first points of the evening, a 3-pointer with just two seconds left in the half, to give Jamestown a 24-21 advantage at intermission.
After being held scoreless in the second quarter, Taplin scored the first four points of the third quarter to give the Spartans a one-point lead, 25-24. It would be the last time Williamsville North held an edge on the scoreboard.
Jamestown used a 10-0 run to gain some separation from the Spartans. Campion collected back-to-back buckets to spur the surge, followed by a transition basket from Zack Panebianco. Then, Kellam and Lee Yaw put exclamation point on the run. First Kellam zinged a halfcourt pass to Lee Yaw, who got up high and finished with authority. On the next trip down the court, Lee Yaw flipped a slick pass inside to Kellam, who finished nicely. Suddenly it was 34-25 Jamestown, the same nine-point advantage the Red Raiders would have at the final buzzer. North was never able to get any closer than six points the rest of the way.
With 2:33 remaining in the game, Taplin popped a 3-pointer, drew a foul, and converted a four-point play. Shortly after, it was announced that the ’3′ had boosted Taplin into the record books. He became the all-time leading scorer at Williamsville North, in just his junior season, surpassing Darren Brown’s mark of 1,318 points that has stood since 1986.
Kellam finished with a career-high 25 points and also grabbed eight boards. Campion and Panebianco each added nine points, while Lee Yaw scored eight points to go with his 16 rebounds. Jamestown held a distinct advantage on the glass in the game, outrebounding North, 38-20.
Taplin’s team-high 20 points paced Williamsville North, while Berkun scored 11 points and Washington added nine points.
(Chad Andrews is one of the top high school hoops bloggers in Western New York. Speaking of, Chad has a superb blog focused solely on high school hoops titled The View From CenterCourt. It’s a must-read for any fan of the sport. Check it out right here. You can also follow him on Twitter)