Earlier this season, it looked as if Jamestown might not win a game in the ECIC's Division I. Now it seems like the Red Raiders can't lose.
By defeating host Orchard Park, 55-49, Tuesday night, Jamestown (11-2, 5-2) extended its winning streak to nine games, including five straight in ECIC I.
After opening with two division losses, the Red Raiders have beaten the other top three contenders (Frontier, Hamburg and OP). More importantly, they did it on the road.
"Obviously, this was a huge win for us," said Jamestown coach Ben Drake, whose team is ranked eighth in the Buffalo News' large school poll. "We're starting to come together and play our best ball. We're fortunate to have held on at the end, but the fact that we did hold on is a very positive sign."
As usual, Jamestown got another solid performance from point guard Maceo Wofford. The senior scored a game-high 27 points and moved into ninth place on the Western New York boys' all-time career scoring list. He now has 1,945 points, 18 more than former St. Joe's star Eric Eberz.
Brian Dux led No. 6 OP (9-4, 5-2) with 15 points, but like the previous duel between the game's two stars (a 61-53 OP win), the supporting cast made the difference.
With Jamestown holding a 52-49 lead with 51.7 seconds left, OP guard Jimmy Dominkewicz seemed to have an easy breakaway layup. But Red Raiders guard Ron James ran him down and blocked the shot out of bounds.
The Quakers were unable to score on the ensuing possession and the Red Raiders iced the game at the free-throw line.
"We can't win a championship with one guy doing it all," said Wofford, who was 9 of 16 from the field and 9 of 11 at the line. "Each individual has a role on the team, and we have to come out each and every game and fill that role."
The Red Raiders built a 12-2 lead on six consecutive layups and finished the first quarter ahead, 18-11, by shooting 64.2 percent (9 of 14).
Jamestown, which shot 53.8 percent for the game, led, 29-24, at halftime despite 10 turnovers in the second quarter.
The Red Raiders committed 24 turnovers in the game, but had none in the last six minutes.
OP, meanwhile, did little to take advantage of Jamestown's miscues. In fact, the Quakers made a few themselves, shooting 40.4 percent and turning the ball over 15 times.
"We never played well the entire game," OP coach Jim Gibson said. "We just never seemed to be in sync and I think their defense had something to do with that."
There was one positive the Quakers could draw from this loss. They are still in the ECIC I race.
"If we win our last five games, we can be the division champion," Dux said. "Our destiny is in our hands."