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EXPLORERS CAPTURE FESTIVAL FINAL LASALLE DEFEATS NIAGARA FALLS 18TH STRAIGHT TIME

Will Niagara Falls ever beat LaSalle?

You have to wonder if that's going through the Power Cats' minds after Saturday night's 52-43 loss to their city rivals in the PAL/Festival of Lights Tournament final at LaSalle.

It was Niagara Falls' 18th straight loss to LaSalle and second in nine days. LaSalle beat the Power Cats, 58-46, in the NFL Kickoff Invitational semifinals Dec. 14.

Niagara Falls looked as if it might be ready to snap the streak this time, as it held a 41-37 lead with 2:23 to play. But LaSalle roared back as tournament most valuable player Scotty Rose scored four of his six points and had three steals to cap a 15-2 outburst in the remaining time.

LaSalle, top-ranked among large schools in The News Poll, improved to 8-0. No. 4 Niagara Falls fell to 6-2. The Power Cats' six wins have been by an average of almost 23 points per game.

Modie Cox and Shino Ellis led LaSalle with 14 points apiece. Willie Cauley was high for Niagara Falls with 19.

LaSalle had a 25-17 halftime lead, but Niagara Falls got within 32-31 through three periods before finally taking its brief lead in the fourth quarter.

In the consolation game, Hutch-Tech (6-2) got 22 points and 18 rebounds from Chuck Thompson in an 83-70 win over Bennett. Pep Skillon added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Engineers, who hit 22 of 27 attempts from the free-throw line. Quincy Lee added 15 points and Curtis Brooks 14 for the winners. Bennett (1-4) got 18 points apiece from Antonio Briggs and Darrell Delaney.

No. Tonawanda Tournament

North Tonawanda won the championship by ripping Grand Island, 80-54. Traver Zayatz (17 points) and Jason Nepokroeff (13) each hit three three-point goals for the Lumberjacks (4-3).

Nepokroeff had two of his in a 25-11 third-quarter burst that enabled NT to turn a 35-25 halftime lead into an easy victory. Brian Cochran added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the winners. Grant Koslowski paced Grand Island (5-4) with 12 points.

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