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Marauders Get Out of Lions’ Den Alive After Late Thriller

LOCKPORT- “Oh, December, we dearly missed you,” said every Western New York high school basketball fan on Friday night as multiple tournaments kicked off the first weekend of thrilling action. Thrilling action was the norm as the St. Joe’s Marauders won over the host Lockport Lions, 70-68, to conclude the first night of the 39th Lockport Rotary Club Tournament. The first quarter was a chess match as both teams exchanged baskets with the Marauders in front, 18-15. The same tempo would occur in the next frame until Trey Boling (5 points, 9 assists) found teammates Mike Motley (21 points) and Caleb Cockrell (16 points) on both fast-break opportunities and from behind the arc to give the Marauders a 32-23 lead with two minutes remaining in the first half.

That’s when the Lions roared. In a 70-second span, Dave Gilson’s squad went on a 7-0 run thanks to lay-ups from Dorian Byrd and Tony Lloyd and a three-pointer from senior guard Cordel McDowell (14 points) to trim the deficit to 32-30 at the break. The momentum continued in the third quarter as the Lions went on a 19-9 run in the third quarter, a 49-41 lead. But after Motley’s three-pointer with 1:35 left, the Marauders never looked back. While Lockport gave them fits all night due to their 1-3-1 defense, head coach Mark Simon and his team made some key adjustments to their game plan down the stretch. “We got a little more aggressive late in the game,” Simon, who is looking to lead the Marauders to a deep run in the Monsignor Martin playoffs this season, explained. “We talked about trying to get to the free-throw line, putting the ball on the floor and getting to the hole and it gave us a little more energy. It was a roller coaster game.” A pair of lay-ups from junior guard Kevin Durkin (10 points) trimmed the deficit to 52-48 at the end of the third quarter.

Both teams started the fourth quarter exchanging baskets once again but it was Jack Capen, who made the play that set the tone for the rest of the night. The junior forward, who finished with 8 points, drew a charge against the Lions’ speedy guard Malik Brooks (11 points). The charge fired up the Marauders bench and rapidly led to a 12-2 run. Boling made a three-pointer and found Motley beyond the arc once again and big-man Hunter Dimitroff made a spin inside the paint for the lay-up. With 4:12 left, St. Joe’s had a 62-58 edge and the momentum back on their side.

“We were just told to stay calm and run our plays all the way through,” Boling said after the game to describe the Marauders big second half. “We just needed to make the easy shots and find the guys that we needed to find.” The Lions had one last surging effort in the last four minutes of regulation but missed free-throws and a pair of wild passes were deadly errors. Brooks, a sophomore, however, got the home crowd on its feet with a nice behind-the-back lay-up to make the score 67-64, after a fast-break pass from Kyle Brown (team-high 19 points). But after teams exchanged turnovers, Boling telegraphed McDowell’s pass and found his teammate, Motley, who ran down the court to score to seal the victory. “When I was going to the basket, I was thinking, ‘Make the plays when you get them,'” Motley added. “We just have to come out tomorrow and be ready to win.”

With the victory, the Marauders have a date with the Williamsville East Flames in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Lockport High School. The Flames won over the I-Prep Presidents to begin the night, 73-63. Drew Butler led the way with 17 points and Matt Gelder added 15. Cameron Williams-Scott commanded the offense for the Presidents with a game-high 24 points. The Presidents will now take on the host Lions in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

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