With over 100 teams competing in the WNY high school basketball scene, there's always going to be some very good players you've never of. But if you spend any time reading this blog, you're aware of the kid that's turning heads in the northeastern end of Niagara County. By the end of the season, you may even gain some familiarity with his teammates. Last night I watched a team that looks poised to make a run in the postseason, a group that is far from a one-man show.
Barker got a game-high 18 points from senior career 1,000 point scorer Jake Haight and another well-rounded outing from his supporting cast, as they had no trouble disposing of Pembroke of Section V, 67-31. With the win, the Raiders improve their record to 4-0 on the season.
It didn't take long for Haight to make an impact on the game. After Pembroke took control of the ball following a sloppy scramble off the opening tip, Haight stole the first pass of the game and was off in the other direction, finishing with a one-handed slam. Minutes later, he was off to the races on another break, but this time it was contested by a Pembroke defender. Haight glided through the air, faked a pass to a trailing teammate, and then softly laid it in like he was Dr. J playing in the ABA. On the very next possession, he swished a 3-pointer that gave him eight points in the first five minutes. Mitch Luckman, who also netted eight points in the opening stanza, banged a pair of treys to end the quarter, giving Barker a 16-7 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Raiders used a 9-0 run (four points apiece from Haight & Luckman) to take a commanding 25-9 lead. The teams headed to intermission with Barker in front 29-14 and with the outcome seeming to be a foregone conclusion. Three minutes into the second half, Christopher Sweeney (four second half 3-pointers) had begun to heat up from the perimeter and the Raiders extended their lead to 21 points. After carrying a 47-27 advantage into the game's final frame, Barker pushed its lead to 59-29 in less than three minutes, and gave way to the reserves over the final five minutes of the contest. Even the Raider reserves were feeling it, outscoring the Dragons, 8-2, during the final span.
This Barker team is active defensively and they like to go after the ball. That style is made possible by the interior presence of Bryce Moeller. There were no heights listed in the program, but Moeller has to go about 6-6 with long arms. He was excellent at rejecting or altering the shots of any Pembroke player able to penetrate inside or beat a gambling defender. He also did a nice job on the boards.
Luckman does a lot of the ball handling for Barker, is a strong, competitive kid, and can hurt you from outside. He finished with 17 points, with 12 of those coming in the first half. Sweeney added 14 points for Barker, and as I alluded to above, shows off a nice touch from outside. Haight looks about 6-3, and can do it all. Athletically, he was at another level from the others in the game and plays with a free spirited style that makes it evident as to just how much he enjoys playing the game. His all-around effort included six rebounds, six assists, five blocks, and three steals.
According to the banners on the wall, the last time Barker won a league championship was 1978. I think it might be safe for the locals to begin planning a parade, because I'd be very surprised if there's another team in the N-O that will challenge this year's Barker squad from capturing its first league championship in 36 years.