NEWFANE — Newfane did senior night just right.
The Panthers slowed down their rival Wilson Lakemen, taking a crucial Niagara-Orleans League affair 61-50 in overtime Thursday night at Newfane High School. Newfane (11-6, 7-3 N-O) couldn’t have asked for a win at a better time, ending a two-game skid after falling to Medina and Akron.
Newfane controlled the tempo in a frenetic 17-12 first quarter, but Wilson (11-7, 6-4) brought the physicality to muck the game up the rest of the way. The Panthers vanquished the Lakemen late though, holding Wilson scoreless in an 11-0 OT period.
There was a mix of scoring in the game for Newfane, with four players finishing in double figures: Sam Capen (16), Garrett Srock (15), Conncr MacEvoy (12) and Josh Everett (11).
The loss ends the Lakemen’s five-game win streak. Wilson saw strong a strong outing from Luke Bradley, who led all scorers with 18. Alex Martinez also chipped in with 13 points.
Capen thought the team remained composed throughout, not complaining about the chippy nature or even with the likes of Wilson’s Brayden Thompson and Ben Mahar hammering the offensive glass. He thought his team’s passing and shooting were key throughout, something that seemed out of sorts with a 2-3 stretch heading into the game.
With Wilson’s grinding defense slowing things down, the junior point guard added that the Panthers began to call out sets of slow-tempo plays, which led to a strong selection by the group and an emphasis on working the clock and playing the game out. Capen also pointed out how important the team’s defense was in the final stages with OT.
Capen knows the enormity of the win and just how integral it could be to what the team’s long-term goals are for the season.
“This was one of our better ‘test me’ games, like we played defense and offense throughout the whole game,” Capen said. “And if we keep doing this, we’re gonna win, and then hopefully go to Buff State. ... We’ve gotta keep going to our goal and win (the) league.”
Newfane head coach Eric Klumpp challenged his group to outwork Wilson in its own game, knowing it would be key.
“I think for three quarters — no, actually four quarters — we kept driving the message that we had to match their intensity,” Klumpp said. “And I would’ve thought after two quarters it would’ve sank in. But I was proud of the way that they battled, they knew that it was go time (in overtime). We tightened it up on the shooters, made sure that their go-to players couldn’t catch in comfortable positions that they wanted to, rotated and finally blocked out, and grabbed some rebounds and made some clutch free throws.”
The return of Capen’s brother, Deuce, has been a process, as the 6-foot-6 big man is still finding his legs after a knee injury kept him out all the way until January. Deuce’s defensive length and shot blocking were just put on brief display Thursday night, which could mean trouble for the N-O and Class B as he continues to progress.
“The chemistry was there for the first 14 games and then Deuce comes back and he’s a little rusty,” Klumpp said. “And it’s been a tough adjustment, not to mention those teams (Medina and Akron) played outstanding. I tip my cap to both of those teams, they executed their game plans and I just thought they played so well. We just had to move forward.”
Newfane looks ahead to its penultimate N-O game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Barker. Next up for Wilson is a 6 p.m. tip-off Tuesday when Royalton-Hartland comes to town.
Follow sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos. Also, tune in to Khari at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on WGR 550’s ‘Inside High School Sports,’ as well as the ‘Greater WNY Sports Connection’ podcast, a collaboration with Jon Simon and WNY Athletics.