By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette —
The Niagara Falls boys basketball team is 12-1 on the season, and 11-0 in Niagara Frontier League play. The Wolverines are ranked as the No. 4 Class AA team in New York State, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association, and are winning games by an average of around 39.6 points per game.
They haven't lost to a team from New York all season, and they haven't allowed a team to score 40 points in the past six contests.
Despite that level of dominance, it's tough to get a solid read on the team. Because of the amount of recent success the program has had, the team can't be judged on its regular-season performance.
That's what makes this weekend so important for the boys in blue, white and yellow.
After rolling through Grand Island, 78-39, on Friday, the Wolverines will take their show on the road to play a pair of top teams in Rochester. They play Webster Schroeder, No. 25 in Class AA, at 7 p.m. Saturday at East High School as part of the RAP Invitational, then return at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Bishop Kearney for a rematch of NF's season-opening win.
The Wolverines have played only two competitive games all season, the first on Dec. 7 in their 52-47 win over Kearney in an emotionally-charged Wolvearena during the first day of the Cataract Classic. The second came one night later, when Niagara Falls lost to Brunswick, Ohio, 57-45, in a game that could be argued was a bit of a let down.
Since then, the Wolverines have cruised through the NFL schedule, their closest game decided by 20 points. Two games is not enough of a sample size to establish if Niagara Falls is the ball-swarming, turnover-creating team that beat Kearney or the seemingly offensively-challenged team that failed to get much going against Brunswick.
This weekend's games will give the Wolverines an opportunity to justify their lofty state ranking. Webster Schroeder upset Class AA No. 2 Fairport on Friday, 70-69 in double overtime, and Kearney, despite being in the midst of a season that hasn't gone as planned, is still a team that boasts four potential Division I players.
Coming back with two wins — along with the added experience of having to make late-game plays for only the third time this season — could mean the world to a Niagara Falls team with state-championship aspirations.High school sports reporter Mike Meiler writes a weekly column on local teams. Respond to him or share stories on Twitter @mikemeiler or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.