Tonight's Rotary finals at LHS should be a classic
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Fasten your seat belts for what promises to be an outstanding Rotary Tournament finals tonight at Lockport High School.
Lockport and St. Joe’s opened the 36th annual classic with impressive wins on Friday night before a large crowd in the Lions’ Den and will meet there at 7:30 p.m. today in the tournament finals.
St. Joe’s ran away from International Prep of Buffalo, 85-56, in Friday night’s varsity opener, then in the nightcap, Lockport jumped out of the gates quickly to defeat gritty Williamsville East, 81-65. Tonight’s varsity consolation game between I-Prep and Will East begins at 6 p.m.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. We had a lot of turnovers tonight and we took the shots we wanted,” said Lions head coach Dave Gilson. “Against St. Joe’s we need to continue to play good hard defense.”
Lockport forward Ryan Lawrence scored a game-high 21 points for the Lions (1-0). Fellow seniors Moziah Townsend, Charlie Sobieraski and Colin Dougherty canned 14, 13 and 13 points apiece, respectively. Sharp-shooting junior forward Nick Clough paced head coach Mike Trzybinski’s Flames with 17 points.
“I’ve talked a lot about the seniors and their leadership and their ability to take over control of the game from the start and that’s exactly what they did,” Gilson said. “I give them a lot of credit. Ryan Lawrence played well. He’s a hard worker. He continues to work very hard at practice. The sky’s the limit with that kid.”
Lawrence and Co. had a great start, jumping out to a 13-0 lead before Will East finally got on the scoreboard three-and-a-half minutes into the game.
A Dougherty tre at the buzzer have the hosts a 28-11 lead after one quarter. Lions sophomore Lavette Warren played a strong game off the bench, scoring five second quarter points as LHS built a 43-25 lead and seemed in complete control.
“Being a senior year, I think I was over-excited tonight,” Lawrence said. “I shot 3 for 18 at this tournament last year and this year, I planned to set the tone. They were real physical — a real gritty team. They tried to get under our skin, but we didn’t let them. We set the tone and kept the tone.”
A couple of strong second half runs gave the Flames some life, but Lockport’s deep bench proved to be too much as the Flames fell to 1-1 on the season.
“I thought we hung in there,” Trzybinski said. “He’s got a great team. Those kids are athletic, they run up and down the court. He had a lot of inter-changeable parts. But I love my team. They work hard and they grind and there’s good things to come I think.”
Head coach Mark Simon’s Marauders also came out strong, forcing I-Prep into multiple turnovers with an effective full-court press.
Led by Justin Hollins’ game-high 26 points, St. Joe’s (1-0) led 18-10 after one quarter and 47-27 at the half, before cruising. Antonio Morreale added 13 points for the Marauders and Justin Jones chipped in with 11. Terrence James led the Presidents (0-1) with 20 points.
“We weren’t sure what to expect, so we thought we’d throw the press at them to slow them down and then fall back into zone and kind of let the dust settle for an opening game,” Simon said.
“We did a lot of good things. We scored a lot of points and we scored a lot of points in transition, which is what we want to do. But I was a little disappointed in our defense. We have to keep people in front us and we can rebound better, but opening night’s always hard for these kids.”