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Published: January 15, 2010 11:39 pm

BOYS BASKETBALL: Vitello lifts Vikings past Lew-Port

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Steve Vitello might not be on many opponent’s scouting report of the Vikings. But after his performance Friday in the second half of Grand Island’s win over Lewiston-Porter, he should be.

The 6-foot-3 forward scored all 16 of his points after halftime to lift GI to a 63-47 win over the visiting Lancers in Niagara Frontier League play. Vitello also picked up seven rebounds in the win.

“Steve Vitello really gave us some great minutes in the second half,” Vikings coach Greg Ross said. “He was very active. Guys did a nice job looking for him and he finished tonight.”

Vitello added, “I got a few nice dishes from my teammates and put them in. Once I got a few to fall, it really got my confidence going.”

Vitello’s play was huge as the Lancers focused their defense around GI sharp shooter Jonas Stalyga in the second half. And deservedly so as the 6-foot-6 senior canned 18 points in the opening 16 minutes to help the Vikings (5-3 overall, 4-2 NFL) to a 26-20 lead. He also surpassed 1,000 career points with his first bucket of the game.

Stalyga was held to just a pair of 3-pointers after intermission to finish with a game-high 24 points, but players like Vitello and Bobby Ross stepped up. Ross canned eight of his 19 points in the third quarter, which began with a 14-2 GI spurt. It ended with a pretty side out-of-bounds lob from Kolby Banker to Ross for a layup as the buzzer sounded.

“It was Kolb’s call and he and Bobby did a nice job executing,” the elder Ross said of the play.

The Lancers (3-6, 1-5), meanwhile, struggled from the floor all night. Leading scorer Marc Morreale finished with just 11 points and only one 3-pointer. Eddie Wilson added eight points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

“We had a lot of good looks I thought, but they weren’t falling and with our size we seem to only get one shot,” Lew-Port coach Pat Krawczyk said. “Defensively, I thought we played tough in the first half but in the second when we made sure someone was always on Stalyga, it opened it up for guys like Vitello and Ross.”

Stalyga led GI in rebounds with 12, while also blocking three shots. Banker notched eight boards and three steals and Ross chipped in with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“I sure hope this win gets us going,” Vitello said, while referencing next Friday’s showdown at North Tonawanda. “We need to keep winning to get a high seed come playoffs.”