Wolverines win Westfield Winter Classic
WESTFIELD – The Westfield Wolverines took care of business for the second straight night on Saturday to walk off their home court as champions of their annual boys basketball tournament, the Westfield Winter Classic. The title game against the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds was a 64-49 final score in favor of the Wolverines.
Westfield (4-0) started with the game’s first five points. Then, after Chautauqua Lake (1-2) had a 3-pointer by Luke Waters, Westfield scored the next eight points for a 13-3 lead with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Westfield’s Darien Swanson capped off the first quarter with an advantage of 18-8 in favor of the hosts.
“Westfield shot the ball very well in the first half,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Alex Reyda. “Hats off to them. That’s a very good team.”
The Wolverines scored the first six points of the second quarter for a 24-8 lead. Westfield’s Ryan Jafarjian drilled a 3-pointer with 3:43 left in the first half for a 32-12 lead to prompt a Chautauqua Lake timeout. Then, Westfield scored 10 of the next 13 points after the timeout.
“I knew if we shot the ball well, we’d be very hard to beat. I think that happened for about six quarters (in this tournament),” said Westfield coach Bob North. “We made shots both nights, which gave us a nice lead. … But we held them to 19 first half points. Our defense was very good again.”
Chautauqua Lake’s Michael Anderson hit a buzzer-beating shot to end the first half, just as he did in Friday’s first half against Sherman. However, while Friday’s shot resulted in a team-wide celebration and shouted words in the direction of Sherman, Saturday’s buzzer-beater didn’t even result in a reaction from the Thunderbirds, down 42-19 at the break. This year’s Wolverines have the kind of talent that will keep a lot of opponents silenced.
“At halftime, I said this was a test of character,” said Reyda. “I said ‘You can go out there and be down by 40 at the end of this, or you can challenge them. That’s all we could hope for being in that sort of a hole at that point.”
Chautauqua Lake played Westfield much tighter in the third quarter, as the Wolverines only outscored the Thunderbirds 12-10 in the period. Westfield only had four points over the first 3:30 of the second half. After the third quarter, the Wolverines led 54-29. Westfield pulled much of its starting five to start the fourth quarter, but the Thunderbirds went on a 15-0 run to cut the Wolverines’ advantage to only 10 points, which prompted North to call a timeout and re-enter four of his five starters.
“That 15-0 (run) was against most of my subs with four of their five starters on the floor,” said North. “My starters told me to put them back in and we got the lead back in a hurry. We made sure everyone knew who the better team was.”
Westfield responded with 10 of the next 12 points, starting with a Mike Johnson 3-pointer, to end the run. Chautauqua Lake scored the final three points to leave the final deficit at 15.
“When we make shots, that makes the game easy – and it’s coming from all over,” said North. “It’s not just one kid. You better find just about anyone I’ve got on the floor to defend us if we’re shooting the ball that well.”
Johnson finished with a game-high 20 points, along with four rebounds. Andrew Baribeau was dominant on the defensive end with 15 rebounds and five blocks, to go with 11 points on the night. Dylan Scriven had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Ryan Jafarjian had nine points and six rebounds. Nate Culbreth had a team-high seven assists, along with six points.
Johnson and Scriven were named to the All-Tournament team, along with Chautauqua Lake’s Waters, Sherman’s John Swabik and Silver Creek’s Dom Jamison. Culbreth was named the tournament’s most valuable player. The coaches of the teams in the tournament selected the All-Tournament honorees.
“We have six kids who, on any given night, can put up 20. It was Mike (Johnson) tonight,” said North. “All of them can score the ball and all of them can play defense. I think we’ll be able to score with most teams.”
Chautauqua Lake’s only scorer in double digits on Saturday was Waters, with 16 points. He had 26 points in the last meeting between the two teams. Westfield’s first contest with Chautauqua Lake was a 71-63 victory for the Wolverines, which was only kept within single digits by a half-court shot at the buzzer by Waters. The Wolverines have won their other three games this season by at least 15 points in each.
“We play well ahead,” said North. “I think if we execute when get in those close games, my seniors will feel like ‘we’ve been there, done that.'”
Westfield hosts Dunkirk next, on Wednesday, in a rematch of a 69-37 win by Westfield on Nov. 25 in Dunkirk. The Marauders were without leading scorer Earl Stewart in that game. Chautauqua Lake plays Panama twice in the coming week in a pair of non-league contests, keeping up the trend of difficult opponents to begin the season for the Thunderbirds.