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Norwood steals the show

Western New York's basketball talent put on a show during the main 411 All-Star Game on Saturday at City Honors.

Jason Rowe canned three-pointers and set up an alley-oop dunk. David Ruffin, Trevor's little brother, soared through the lane for a monstrous putback jam that got the estimated 400 fans' attention. Six-foot-nine Damone Brown, when he wasn't finishing off an alley-oop, drained long-range three-pointers.

And then there's Mike Norwood, a forgotten talent who stole the show during a 100-72 triumph by Buffalo's All-Stars over Albany counterparts in a game that was never really close.

A big reason for that was Norwood, who after scoring four key points during Buffalo's 54-36 first half reminded fans that Rowe and Brown aren't the only pro talents who played their high school ball in the Yale Cup.

As if the alley-oop dunk he had in the opening 18 minutes didn't serve enough notice, he threw down three more times during an 18-point showing before the game was mercifully called with just over five minutes left.

"It's always fun to be able to come back home. You want to put on a good show," said Norwood, the former Seneca and Coppin State standout who averaged 17 points and nine rebounds in a Finnish pro league last year. "But we were able to play collectively as a team and come away with the win.

"We've always had a lot of talent and big names. A lot of the guys not really known have a lot of talent too."

Ten players scored at least three points for Buffalo, with Karl Rainey, Rowe and Brown each scoring 13. Rowe and Brown combined on perhaps the biggest basket of the second half just after Albany had trimmed the lead to 63-53 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter. Rowe set up Brown for the one-handed alley-oop slam off a fast break to quell Albany's momentum and remind the guests Buffalo's best wasn't about to lose in its own backyard.

"That was a game changer," Rowe said. "It took the air out of them."

Durett Miles led Albany with 21 points.

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Western New York's under-16 and under-15 teams earned triumphs over Toronto counterparts. Cameron Lewis scored 20 in a 52-43 win for the under-15 team.

In the 16-under game, Dajon Streeter had 13 points and Sterling Taplin, a sophomore at Williamsville North who earned third team All-WNY last winter, added seven in a 57-47 win.

Taplin's father, Glenn, scored all eight of his points in the second half of the 411 Legends White team's 63-57 win later in the day.

"It's a blessing to sit and watch him play and then he turns around and watches me," the elder Taplin said of both being able to participate in the event. "It's pretty cool."

Glenn graduated from Lafayette in 1980 but while he has a passion for hoops, he played football at Canisius College.

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Curtis Aiken, the 1983 Bennett grad, first McDonald's All-American to attend Pittsburgh and soon be inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, on being the first inductee into the 411 All-Star Hall of Fame:

"Being the first is significant and quite the honor," he said.

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About 80 youths ages 17-and-under attended a three-hour 411 All-Star clinic run under the direction of former St. Bonaventure player and current Texas assistant Rob Lanier.

That along with the new four-game format made for a wonderful weekend event, according to organizer John Thomas.

"I wanted to try to connect the generations," said Thomas, a former Bennett star who nows runs his own business in Atlanta. "To create a platform and venue that's going to be well attended, we're creating a stage where the [young children] will want to keep working hard."

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The 411 Weekend concludes with a golf clinic today at Harvest Hill in Orchard Park where instructors from First Tee volunteered to teach youths finer points in game at the course's training facility.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com