On Friday night in the opening round of the Bob Hettler Tip Off Classic at Amherst High School, Clarence was paired against North Tonawanda in an intriguing nonleague matchup of two teams with high aspirations for the upcoming season. In what was the opener for both teams, and Clarence opened the game by taking a 13-point lead after one quarter...and won the game by the same margin.
Ryan Funk poured in a game-high 30 points, while Bryan Jost added 15 points to help advance the Red Devils to the championship game against Amherst. It will be the second straight season that the two teams face each other in this round.
Clarence was leading the Lumberjacks, 13-10, with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, when they began to create the margin that would ultimately hold. Funk spurred a 10-0 over that span, nailing a 3-pointer from the side. Jost added five points during the run, including a '3', and along with a bucket from Emaure Williams, Clarence had a 23-10 lead through eight minutes.
The rest of the game was the contest I was expecting to see, with the Lumberjacks taking the second quarter by two points, Clarence doing the same in the third, and the two teams scoring 16 apiece over the final frame. But to the Red Devils' credit, they never allowed North Tonawanda to make a run and never stopped attacking. The efficiency of Clarence from long range helped, with Funk and Jost combining for seven treys, while North Tonawanda struggled to get the long ball to fall.
Joe Piotrowski led the Lumberjacks in scoring with 16 points, while Michael Awad scored 11 points and Chris Woodard added 10 points. The Jacks will look to bounce back against Oracle Charter in the consolation game today.