By Scott Kindberg
The Jamestown Red Raiders didn't waste any time putting distance between themselves and Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 rival Frontier on Friday night.
Jamestown's Stephen Carlson (22) and Quinn Lee Yaw (32) both rise up to block a shot by an unidentified Frontier player during Friday night's Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 basketball game at McElrath Gymnasium. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Junior Zack Panebianco scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the opening quarter, Jamestown broke out to a huge lead and then coasted to a 66-44 victory before a large crowd at McElrath Gymnasium.
The win raised Jamestown's record to 12-4 overall and 8-2 in the division heading into Monday's home showdown with Williamsville North as the two teams battle for not only a share of the division title, but also a No. 1 seed in the upcoming Section 6 Class AA playoffs.
"There are a lot of implications,'' Jamestown coach Ben Drake said, "but to me it's the league title. Knowing going in if we win we're going to share it, but to still be able to call ourselves league champs is important to us.
"After Monday, we'll worry about the playoff picture."
Continued strong play on the defensive end will help any postseason push.
The Red Raiders led 8-5 early and then clamped down on Frontier from there, outscoring the Falcons, 16-2, the remainder of the first quarter to essentially put the game out of reach.
"Our defense has really come a long way throughout the course of the season,'' Drake said. "That's what wins games and that's what wins playoff games, particularly. It's something we've worked on quite a bit and we're certainly going to need a great defensive effort on Monday night.''
Panebianco, who came into the contest averaging 29 points per game in his last four outings, continued his brilliant play by showing off his offensive repertoire. In the last five minutes of the first period, he scored on a floater, a baseline drive, a three-point play after a steal and a long 3-pointer.
Armed with a 24-7 lead, the Red Raiders, who knocked off Frontier, 79-39, earlier in the season, could begin looking ahead to Monday's showdown with Williamsville North. When the teams met in December, the Spartans rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final four minutes to stun Jamestown, 61-60, on Maceo Jack's 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
That loss has stuck with Drake for nearly two months. More important than avenging a game they let slip away, however, is the fact the Red Raiders need to win to claim a share of the league title and avoid slipping to as low as a No. 5 seed in the sectional playoffs. That hasn't happened to Jamestown since 2005.
The key to success against Williamsville North is somehow containing all-Western New York senior guard Sterling Taplin, who poured in 45 points on Thursday night against Frontier. Of course, the Spartans will have to find a way to deal with Panebianco, who had a 37-point explosion at Lancaster on Monday.
"Zack is just taking his game to a different level,'' Drake said. "There's not many people that are playing better basketball than Zack Panebianco in Western New York. For high school basketball fans, Monday night is a great matchup. Not only are two great players going head to head, but two great teams."
In other words, it has the makings of another classic.
See JHS, Page B3
"Monday will be a battle,'' Drake predicted. "We've had some great battles with them over the years. Taplin's a good player, but I feel like we're the better team. We certainly let one slip away up there in December, but we're playing a lot better basketball."
NOTES: In addition to Panebianco's 21 points, Stephen Carlson had 12 points and six rebounds; Quinn Lee Yaw had nine points and nine boards; and Josh Colwell had eight points and five boards. Dave Rajski had 17 to lead Frontier (5-9, 3-7). In the junior varsity game, Jamestown raised its record to 11-4 overall and 9-1 in the division following a 79-38 victory over Frontier. Jesus Rodriguez led the way with 23 points, Nikk Holland had 17 and David Diaz chipped in with 13.
Licata 2 1 5, Bergman 0 0 0, Evancho 2 0 6, Quinlivan 2 0 4, Steiger 2 0 6, Sentz 0 1 1, Hatten 1 1 3, Rajski 4 7 17, Totals 14 19 44.
Castro 0 0 0, Kinsey 1 0 3, Colwell 4 0 8, Park 3 0 8, Nazzaro 0 0 0, Panebianco 8 1 21, Haberberger 0 0 0, Larson 0 0 0, Hoaglund 1 2 5, Carlson 3 6 12, Lee Yaw 3 2 9, Totals 23 11 66.
3-point goals-Evancho 2, Steiger 2, Rajish 2, Kinsey, Park 2, Panebianco 4, Hoaglund, Lee Yaw.
Frontier7 4 10 23 - 44
Jamestown24 11 14 7 - 66
Jayvees: Jamestown 79, Frontier 38