Weekly Feature

2018-01-10 / Sports

Boys basketball team doubles win total


Clarence’s boys basketball team picked up a pair of impressive victories in a three-day span last week to improve to 4-5 on the season.

The first of those wins, a 63-50 triumph over Williamsville North, gave the Red Devils their first ECIC I victory of the season. It couldn’t have come at a better team — and against a better opponent — than it did, since coach Doug Ratka noted that North was considered by many to be one of the top two divisional teams going into the 2017-18 campaign.

It was Clarence that had the look of a top-two team Thursday, however, as the Red Devils “played our most complete game of the year” in slowly but steadily building up a lead that reached as high as 20 points in the early stages of the fourth quarter. Clarence opened the game on a 7-0 run and closed the quarter with a 14-8 lead that was one of the final times of the contest that North’s deficit — which ballooned to 29-18 by halftime and 45-27 heading into the final stanza — was in single digits.

“We played really well,” Ratka said. “This was the game that we’d been waiting for. We shot the ball well and hit our opens shots, and our defense was good enough that we really just took it to them. We’ve had some frustrating losses this year and we’re trying to get league wins, so to get the first one our first time playing a league game at home this year was big. We hadn’t been living up to our expectations, but we battled well against North.”

Jack Putney led the way for Clarence with 15 points, while River Reinhardt added 14 points — thanks in part to a 9-of-10 showing from the foul line — and eight assists. Brandon Ferris chipped in with 13 points, nine of which came off three pointers, while Joe Olivieri netted nine points to go along with his five rebounds.

Mike O’Brien contributed six points for the Red Devils, who came back Saturday afternoon and demolished Newfane, 66-33, in a game that was originally supposed to have been played on Tuesday.

Though Clarence was able to get out to a comfortable 36-23 halftime lead, the second half was where the Red Devils did most of their damage at both ends of the court. Clarence, which finished the contest with 12, three-point baskets, outscored Newfane by a 20-10 margin in the third quarter before closing out the game on a 10-0 run over the course of the fourth quarter to secure the lopsided victory.

“We didn’t have a practice Friday because school was closed, so I had no idea what we would get being out of routine a little bit,” Ratka said. “The first quarter and a half was back and forth, and Newfane is a good team with a bunch of kids with a lot of varsity experience, but I think by us closing out the first half on a 21-10 run really pushed us to the win. We poured it on in the third quarter, hitting shots and playing well defensively.”

Reinhardt led the way for Clarence with 17 points and eight assists, while Putney finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ferris chipped in with nine points, all of which came on three-point baskets, while Steve Kabayiza added eight points. Those four combined to hit 10 of Clarence’s 12 threes for the game.

Olivieri pitched in with six points for Clarence (1-3 ECIC I), which returned to action Tuesday at Frontier in a game that ended too late for this edition. The Red Devils close out their week Friday against Orchard Park.

“We’re going up against two different styles of teams this week, so our best approach to that is to worry more about ourselves,” Ratka said. “Worrying about ourselves worked well for us in our last couple of games, so we’re hoping it will continue to do so this week.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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