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Pembroke falls to Cheektowaga

By: Brayden Peters

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. - Pembroke's boys varsity basketball team couldn't establish a rhythm quick enough against Cheektowaga, falling 72-63. The Warriors sliced their way through Pembroke's defense with ease and were hot from beyond the three-point arc.

Pembroke's Sean Pustulka tries to guard Luis Rodriguez Rivera. (Photo Credit: Brayden Peters/89.1 The Point)

The first quarter was not extremely high in scoring. Pembroke struggled in the first minutes to get a basket to get on the board as the Warriors were able to gradually find an offensive rhythm. From there, Cheektowaga kept scoring from both inside the paint and the perimeter. The Dragons were able to find a rhythm offensively, but it was during the back half of the first quarter, which played a role in why they were down 14-9 at the end of it.

Most of Pembroke's points came from Tyson Totten, who had three during the quarter. As for the Warriors, it was Elliot Makelke who was their points leader with five to his name. He scored on the first few opening buckets of the game for Cheektowaga.

Pembroke's Caleb Felski tries to defend against Makelke. (Photo Credit: Brayden Peters/89.1 The Point)

Things started to get out of hand for the Dragons in the second quarter, though. Luis Rodriguez Rivera of the Warriors went off, as he cut his way through the Pembroke defense for a few layups. He was not only lethal from the paint; he was hitting three-point shots left and right. Pembroke's defense was overwhelmed.

"We were kind of just shell-shocked," Pembroke head coach Matt Shay said. "...we didn't guard the way that we usually defend."

As for Pembroke's offense, just like the first quarter, they found their offensive rhythm in the back end of the second quarter. Totten still helped carry the offense, but had some help from LJ Ferreria. Ferrari recorded nine points for himself by the end of the half. However, critical mistakes on defense and an inconsistent offense had the Dragons down 42-24 going into halftime.

Rivera drives towards the basket. (Photo Credit: Brayden Peters/89.1 The Point)

The third quarter saw a complete resurgence from Pembroke. Their defense started to shut down the Warriors, as they struggled to score anything from inside the paint. On top of that, the Warriors' three-point shooting was off to start the third quarter.

The Dragons took advantage of Cheektowaga's offensive woes and went to work. Totten powered his way through the Warriors' defense for a few inside baskets along with hitting a trey, giving him three more points for the Dragons. He ended the quarter with a total of 17 points.

"I mean, night in, night out, I put in a lot of work," Totten said. "I try and do my best to make the team win every night. So, that's why I see success on the floor."

Totten attempts a layup. (Photo Credit: Brayden Peters/89.1 The Point)

Even though the Dragons looked rejuvenated in the third, they still found themselves down at the end of it, 57-43. Unfortunately for them, the game didn't go down to the wire in the fourth quarter with a comeback.

Pembroke gave up big turnovers to the Warriors who capitalized on those chances to score. They consistently were able to score from almost everywhere on the court. Even though the Dragons' offense kept finding ways to score, the deficit to start the quarter was too big to come back from, losing 72-63.

"When you dig yourself a hole like that in the first half, you know, it's just a lot of digging and clawing to get out from behind," Shay said. "...we need to find our identity in terms of like how we're going to guard and also like our sort of toughness as a team."

Pustulka does a crossover against JJ Shanklin. (Photo Credit: Brayden Peters/89.1 The Point)

Pembroke had two players score over 10 points, with Totten getting 25 and Ferreria scoring 15. As for Cheektowaga, three players had over 10 points. Rivera led with 17 points, Darryl Montgomery was second with 14 points, and RoMel Speaks was third with 13 points.

The Dragons will go on the road to take on Notre Dame Batavia on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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