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Belote Leads Williamsville North Back To Class AA Title Game

When it matters the most, the Williamsville North High School boys basketball team has come to expect nothing but the best out of senior guard Jacob Belote. And in the Spartans’ biggest game of the year to date, their captain delivered a career performance.

Belote scored a career-high 33 points and led Williamsville North back to the Section VI Class AA championship game with a 73-64 semifinal win over Lockport on Tuesday night at Buffalo State College’s Sports Arena.

“The bigger the game, the better he plays, it seems,” Williamsville North coach Chuck Sweiski said. “When the lights are on, when they’re shining, that’s when he’s at his best. Am I surprised that he scored 33? Yeah, maybe that many. But I’m not surprised he played a fantastic game.”

Belote and the Spartans (19-2) will return to the sectional title game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday back at Buffalo State. It’ll be a rematch of last year’s large school title game with the Niagara Falls Wolverines.

“It’s been a goal for us all year to get back and get another shot at them,” Belote said. “They’ve been the team to beat in the area for the past, like … as long as I can remember. We definitely want another shot at them.”

Belote keyed a game-changing 13-1 first half run that turned the tide from a back-and-forth battle to a game that saw the Spartans build a 12-point halftime. North then built a lead as big as 23 with a spurt to start the third quarter.

He made his Buffalo State debut last February in an overtime win against ECIC I rival Orchard Park. Although the finals didn’t go as hoped, the experience was huge this time around.

“As a junior, playing on this stage (for the first time), you get more comfortable,” Belote said. “It definitely helped. Our whole team it helped, I feel, because most of our team is back from last year when we played two games at Buff State.”

Lockport (18-7) didn’t go quietly as Malik Brooks, Torree Cheatham, and friends led a ferocious late comeback try that brought the Lions as close as six in the final three minutes. But North hit its free throws, led by senior Joe Nusall’s 9-of-10 performance from the stripe in the final period, to seal the deal.

“Lockport’s a good team,” Sweiski said. “It was just a matter of time until they were able to figure some things out. Free throws down the stretch were huge and we made some plays down the stretch when we needed to.”

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