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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167


The Jamestown Red Raiders are champions of Section VI’s Class AA once again after the team downed the Niagara Falls Wolverines 59-34 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Saturday.

While it’s the first title for the team since they won five in a six-year span from 2010-15, it’s not as if the team was in a drought. Nevertheless, the feeling among the team was one of euphoria.

“It’s so special coming to Buffalo State and winning a sectional championship,” coach Ben Drake said. “I’m just happy for these guys being a part of it.

“I’ve coached a lot of these guys since they were little kids – going to tournaments with them when they were in fifth and sixth grade. So to see these guys come up to varsity and be able to win a sectional championship is pretty special.”

Right from the get-go the Red Raiders staked their claim to a title and never let go. A 15-6 first quarter characterized by Andre Maple’s nine points was the starting point and a second quarter with four points from Maple, six from Jaylen Butera and great defensive play by holding the Wolverines to just five field goals was exactly what the team needed.

“I was really proud of our guys for executing our gameplan,” Drake said. “I thought our key tonight was to close off the penetration and not let them into the lane and win the war on the boards – Niagara Falls is such a great offensive rebounding team – and we did that tonight.

From there the rout was on. Butera added another nine points in the second half, Maple tacked on seven more (for totals of 15 and 20 points, respectively) and continued to hold down the fort defensively to shut down Niagara Falls.

While the Red Raiders accomplished one goal – winning a sectional title – another loftier goal (a state championship) is now in sight, and Drake said that keeping his team’s focus on one game at a time was his man focus.

“At the beginning of the playoffs we had a saying on our locker room board – ‘One step at a time’ and each step laid out the dates and opponents,” Drake said. “Being one game away from playing for a state championship is such a special opportunity. If we can have this kind of defensive effort again, I like our chances.”

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