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Jones Reaches 300 Victories As Depew Holds Off Lake Shore

The Depew High School boys basketball team wanted to treat it like any other game, but it wasn’t. With veteran coach Larry Jones on the verge of a milestone, the suddenly red-hot Wildcats were looking to be part of history on their home floor.

And they got there.

Depew held off rival Lake Shore for a 70-63 win in ECIC III play on Wednesday night – the 300th victory in the storied career of the program’s iconic coach.

“We came into this game excited,” junior Christian Pagano said. “We tried to act like we didn’t know about it but, really, we did know about it and we used that as motivation. We wanted to get it for him.”

Jones, who has been at Depew since 1991, has led the Wildcats to four division championships and won the Section VI title in 2008. After the game, Athletic Director Robert Skoczylas announced the accomplishment and Jones celebrated with hugs and high-fives from his players and a water cup shower from captains Davion March and PJ Burns.

“It means I’m old,” Jones said with a laugh. “We’ve had a lot of different kinds of teams and a lot of great kids – it’s about them. They’re the ones that make it special.”

Depew entered the season with 291 wins and with an undersized group, it looked early on like hitting 300 this season was at-best a maybe. But the Wildcats have caught fire, winning six straight league games.

Wednesday’s win also earned a measure of revenge as the Wildcats dropped a 61-49 decision to Lake Shore in Angola less than a month ago.

“It feels good,” said March, who hit two free throws with a little more than three minutes left to give his team the lead for good. “We came in here wanting to get it for him. We had to beat a team that beat us earlier to get him that win, so that made it extra special.”

The win improved Depew’s record to 9-6 overall, 7-2 in the division. Lake Shore fell to 9-7, 6-4 in ECIC III – and while Lake Shore coach Brett Lyford wanted Jones to wait for another day to get to 300 wins, he couldn’t help but be impressed by his opponent’s accomplishment.

“He’s a good guy and he deserves it,” he said. “I told him, someday I hope to be here long enough to get 300 wins. That’s incredible. I don’t care how many years or whatever, that’s incredible. To stick with it as long as he has and be here, it’s an incredible honor for him and it’s deserved.”

Pagano led Depew with 26 points. March added 21 and Burns 11 for the Wildcats. Zach Evans scored 21 for Lake Shore, while Colin Herzog added 14 and Thomas Michael 12 for the Eagles.

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