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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Amherst Wins the “Battle on Main Street”

The Williamsville South boy’s varsity basketball team hosted the Amherst Tigers on Friday night in the first of two ‘Battle on Main Street’ matchups in 2019. Amherst went into their rival’s gym and came out with a 72-54 victory, improving to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 in the A1 division.

After a sloppy first few minutes, Amherst jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. Amherst ran a full-court press on the Will South guards from the opening tip and it gave the Billies fits all night. However, despite their slow start, Will South ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run and knotted the score at 10-10 through eight minutes of play.

The Billies briefly continued in the beginning of the second quarter. Senior Michael DiGiulio recorded his second block of the game and followed it up at the other end with a lay-up and free throw to put Will South ahead 13-10.

Momentum swung back in Amherst’s favor after the three-point play from DiGiulio. Amherst’s Jake Mullen took a charge a few plays later and on the following possession hit a three-pointer to put the Tigers up 17-13.

Amherst’s full-court press continued to cause problems for Will South. The Tigers were able to go on a run in the second quarter, capitalizing on the Billies turnovers and scoring quick baskets off Will South’s missed shots.

The Tigers had a clear advantage in the paint as well. Amherst scored a number of baskets by driving hard to the rim and getting the ball inside to their big guys. The Tiger offense also got themselves a number of second and third chance possessions and points throughout the evening thanks to strong offensive rebounding.

Amherst closed the second quarter with a 9-2 run and took a 32-23 lead into the locker room at half time. Mullen was the Tigers’ leader offensively in the first half. The senior guard scored 11 of his 14 total points and hit two three-pointers in the first 16 minutes of play.

Will South cleaned up their play at the start of the second half and kept Amherst on their toes. DiGiulio and fellow senior Devin Degree did their best to spark a Billies’ comeback midway through the third quarter. Degree scored nine of his 11 total points in the third quarter, hitting three shots from behind the arc. DiGiulio sank three, three-pointers as well and finished with a game-high 23 points.

The Billies cut Amherst’s lead to 40-37 with about three minutes to play in the quarter, but that would be as close as they would get.

With 2:30 to play in the third, Amherst’s James Moore threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk on an open break that quieted the home crowd. Moore’s dunk put the Tigers up 44-37 and they didn’t seem to look back from there.

The third quarter ended with a last-second three-pointer that was banked in from about 30-feet out by Amherst’s Jaylen Stewart. The junior’s buzzer beater gave the Tigers a 54-41 lead heading into the final frame. Stewart finished the evening with a team-high 15 points.

Amherst’s never dipped below double digits in the fourth quarter. The Tigers continued to out-run the Billies in the final eight minutes, scoring a number of points on fast breaks.

Moore provided the final dagger after he grabbed a teammate’s missed lay-up and went right back up with the ball and threw down his second dunk of the evening, putting Amherst up 71-52 with 1:40 to go. It was a strong finish for the senior forward, who was an x-factor for the Tigers. Moore was a force in the paint all night, he tallied 14 points and pulled in a game-high 13 rebounds.

Friday night’s win was the fourth in a row for Amherst. Unfortunately for Will South, it was their fourth consecutive loss. The Billies now sit at 3-6 on the season and are 0-3 in the A1 division.

Both Will South and Amherst’s next games will be on Tuesday, January 8th. The Billies will host cross-town rival Williamsville East and the Tigers will head back to Amherst to take on Buffalo Health and Sciences. Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m.

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