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Panthers Claw Their Way To Victory Over Warriors

NEWFANE- There’s an old saying in the game of basketball and essentially in all aspects of life: “Team work makes the dream work.” And on Wednesday afternoon, the Newfane Panthers, led by junior guard Kyle DeVoogel’s game-high 21 points, put that quote to good use as ten players made the score sheet in their 69-48 victory over the Tonawanda Warriors. “We’re slowly turning into a player-coached team,” said Newfane head coach and former Panther standout Eric Klumpp after the game. “Average teams are coached by their coaches and great teams are coached by their players. Their leadership skills are slowly developing into the point where they feel comfortable shaping each other and playing enormous minutes no matter what it takes for each other.” The Panthers, who are now a three-game winning streak, came roaring out of the opening tip to begin the game on an 11-4 run thanks to work inside from big-men Chad Dunbar and Calib Russell (7 points) and the efficient shooting of junior guard Max Weber (14 points). The Warriors then went on a brief 6-0 run with contributions in the paint from Zach Stapf, Trey Lilly and Chuck Moore. However, the momentum swung back in favor of the Panthers as their suffocating 2-3 zone on defense caused fast-break baskets to extend their lead to 17-12 at the end of the first quarter.

For the Warriors, the start of the second quarter changed the game from bad to worse as Moore was called for a technical foul, his third personal of the half. The Panthers made them pay as they converted four consecutive free-throws and converted another layup, this time from senior guard Albert Kramp, all in a matter of just 38 seconds. When it seemed that the Warriors could make a comeback with a pair of baskets in a row, the Panthers still dominated in all aspects of the game. Over the last four minutes of the first half, the Panthers went on a 9-4 run, thanks to a stretch of steals from DeVoogel, arguably one of the best guards in the Niagara-Orleans League. At the end of the first half, Newfane had a 32-21 lead.

Then, when DeVoogel briefly left in the third quarter due to a wrist injury, Weber took control of the offense with a pair of three-pointers to cap a 10-5 run, putting his team up 42-26 early in the second half. After the game, Coach Klumpp was pleased with both of his guards, who have brought the veteran presence necessary for a team to make a big run in the postseason so far. “The great thing about those two is that they love to compete,” Klumpp explained. “They really work hard to get better each and every day. We expect a lot out of them and (with) our nonleague schedule (we were) able to get a lot out of those two and how they approached each and every game, how they approached each possession. They really took their game to the next level with just their approach and what they bring to the game.”

By the final buzzer, the Panthers went through their entire bench, with every player contributing on the offensive and defensive ends. Other notable contributors were Kramp, who finished with 6 points, and freshman guard Sam Kline, who finished with 4 points and a handful of assists and steals. Newfane (5-4, 2-0 in league play) will hit the road for trips to Webber in Lyndonville, NY (Jan. 3) and a league matchup against Barker (Jan. 10) before coming home to host Medina on Jan. 13. For Tonawanda, injuries and disciplinary issues really hindered what head coach Henry Hughes’s squad could do against the Panthers as their defense struggled at times. Trey Lilly provided stability at times on the offensive end for the Warriors as he finished with a team-high 16 points. Moore added 14 points and Stapf recorded 9 points. Tonawanda (2-6, 0-2 in league play) will re-group over the New Year’s break before their visits to league foes Lackawanna (Jan. 5) and Holland (Jan. 10).

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