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Wolverines leave no doubt in 74-54 win over Black Knights

Winter Classic is underway

Westfield’s Nate Culbreth (11) is defended by Silver Creek’s Sam Braidich during Friday’s non-league boys basketball game during the Westfield Winter Classic tournament at Westfield Academy. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

WESTFIELD — The Westfield Wolverines had everything working on Friday night in front of the home crowd in Westfield’s annual tip-off boys basketball tournament, the Westfield Winter Classic. Thanks to an 8-0 run in the first quarter and a first half that saw 48 points from the blue and white, Westfield came away with a 74-54 victory over the Silver Creek Black Knights to ensure the Wolverines would play for their tournament title on Saturday night against Chautauqua Lake.

“In the first half when they built their lead, they weren’t missing anything,” said Silver Creek coach Ralph Jackson. “They were about 60-something percent on threes in the first half. They definitely had some good looks, but they also hit contested shots.”

Westfield (3-0) took nearly 2 1/2 minutes to score its first basket of the game, but after an Andrew Baribeau layup, a Mike Johnson 3-pointer and a Ryan Jafarjian and-one layup, the Wolverines led 8-2 before the halfway point of the first quarter.

“They’re good. They’re a good team,” said Jackson. “I knew this was going to be a tough game coming into it. Despite the score, I thought we played well. … They just made a bunch of good shots.”

Silver Creek (0-2) hit layups on back-to-back possessions to make the deficit just two points, but Westfield scored the next six points to jump up by eight. Westfield’s go-to guy off the bench, Darien Swanson, drilled a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first quarter for a 20-11 lead, then senior Dylan Scriven hit a layup to put the Wolverines ahead by double digits at the end of the first quarter, 22-11.

Westfield’s Dylan Scriven (13) attempts a contested layup during Friday’s non-league boys basketball game during the Westfield Winter Classic tournament at Westfield Academy. Scriven led the Wolverines with 15 points in the 74-54 Westfield victory. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

Westfield didn’t slow down from there. In fact, the Wolverines held a double-digit advantage the rest of the night. A 3-pointer just shy of the halfway point in the second quarter by Nate Culbreth put Westfield ahead by 21 points, 35-14. Johnson capped off the half with another 3-pointer for the Wolverines to take a 48-25 lead into the break.

“Knocking down shots became contagious,” said Westfield coach Bob North. “When we make those shots for three points, we’re going to be tough to defend.”

Westfield led by at least 20 points the entirety of the second half. The Wolverines out-scored the Black Knights 18-10 in the third quarter to lead 66-35 heading into the final period.

North pulled his starters well before the halfway point of the fourth quarter, because even with a huge lead, the Wolverines never let up. Culbreth, who led the team with six assists on the night, even took a charge with 1:35 left in the third quarter with a 29-point lead.

Even in the fourth quarter, Westfield still had one last spark from beyond the arc. Westfield senior Zachary Roache drilled the Wolverines’ final 3-pointer of the night with just over four minutes remaining in the game. It put Westfield up 30 points at the time, 73-43.

Silver Creek finished with 11 of the final 12 points of the game to finish down 20, which was the closest the game was the entire second half.

Scriven led Westfield with 15 points as one of four Wolverines in double figures. Culbreth had 13 points, six assists and five rebounds; Jafarjian had 11 points and six rebounds; and Johnson had 10 points on three 3-pointers. Baribeau had eight points and led the team with seven rebound and five blocks. Westfield was 10-25 (40 percent) from 3-point range overall on the night.

“I thought we shared the ball well,” said North. “If we share the ball and get scoring from multiple guys, I don’t know how you defend us.”

Dominic Jamison led Silver Creek with 15 points, while Darren Jimenez added 13 points. Jamison and Spencer Harford each had six rebounds.

“We definitely played better tonight than the first game,” said Jackson after the game. “There were certainly things in the first game that bothered me. … But we made a conscious effort to improve on those things.”

Silver Creek will play Sherman in the consolation game. Tip-off is estimated for 5:15 p.m., Saturday.

“Sherman is always good. Cory always has his kids ready to play. They compete,” said Jackson.

Westfield now will play Chautauqua Lake in a rematch of a non-league contest earlier in the week, which Westfield won 71-63. Tip-off is estimated for 7 p.m., Saturday.

“I heard one of the seniors before the game say ‘Let’s make a statement.’ That’s on their minds. … I said that before the first game in Dunkirk. ‘We’re supposed to be good, so let’s go out and show them that we are good,'” said North. “So far, so good. Hopefully we put another nice game together (Saturday) night. It would be nice to win our own tournament.”

Look for coverage of Saturday’s tournament games in Monday’s OBSERVER or online at observertoday.com.

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