Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

High Schools

March 7, 2012

Blue and gold heaven

Lockport outlasts Lancaster to reclaim AA girls basketball crown

SANBORN — It’s impossible to know exactly what the conversations were in the long chain of cars that made their way back to Lockport from Niagara County Community College like a snake Tuesday night.

But it had to be the greatest 10-minute joy ride in years for Lockport girls basketball fans.

The Lady Lions out-lasted Lancaster, 57-54, in a slugfest between two of the state’s top 10 large-school teams, claiming their fourth Section VI Class championship in the past nine years under head coach Bill Shaw.

In a game —from the beginning — that was destined to go down to one final shot, the hard-fought AA title contest did so, as Lancaster senior Katie Healy’s three-point attempt bounced off the rim and into the hands of Lockport sophomore Sara Franco as the final horn went off.

The celebration was joyous and genuine for a Lockport team that struggled throughout the season to find their identity. They’ve more than done so and now head to the state Far West Regionals and will take on the Section V (Rochester-area) AA champion Penfield at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Finger Lakes Community College in Rochester.

The winner of that game advances to prestigious “Final Four” March 16-18 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, where the 2011-12 girls hoops state public high school class champions will be crowned.

“I’m speechless,” LHS forward Marisa Guyton said, trying to catch her breath after the game and resulting blue and gold mosh pit on the court. “I mean, we’ve worked so hard for this. All of us. It just feels so great to come out on top after getting knocked off early last year.”

Guyton (game-high 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, block) and fellow senior Emma Sobieraski (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) carried the load for Lockport throughout a tight first half — literally. The pair scored every one of Lockport’s first half points in a 23-23 deadlock at intermission.

The Lady Lions led early, but head coach Karen Catalano’s Lady Redskins (19-2) kept within a bucket or two throughout the first quarter, trailing by three, 11-8 after one. Guyton scored on the inside and way out in the second quarter, but Lancaster senior Samantha Wozniak (16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) was outstanding with a three-point basket and seven points total in the stanza and Lady Redskins Katie Healy (15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) started to get rolling as Lancaster briefly took the lead before the teams headed to their locker rooms tied at halftime.

LHS senior Maggie Glenn (6 points, 6 rebounds) started finding her range in the third quarter and Lady Lions sophomore Sara Franco (2 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals) added an offensive rebound basket as Lockport opened the second half on a positive note.

That’s when Lady Redskins junior Kim Siresi started throwing in treys from Rt. 425 and suddenly it was close again. Wozniak threw up a Hail Mary three-pointer from the Reservation that bounced off the backboard and in, but a rebound bucket by Sobieraski tied the game at 31-31.

At the Lancaster High Water Mark, a three-pointer by Siresi gave the Lady Redskins a five-point, 38-33 lead. After the teams traded baskets, Lady Lions junior guard Alexis Cheatham (8 points, 2 assists) drained a critical trey just before the buzzer to cut the Lancaster lead to 40-38 after three.

The fourth quarter was a barn burner as Glenn swished one from the corner to tie it, but the pesky Siresi sank another trey to give Lancaster a 43-40 lead. Healy raised the lead back up to five with an inside basket, but a Guyton jumper and a second clutch three-pointer by Cheatham had Lockport within two, 47-45 with just under six minutes to go.

The Lady Redskins added a free-throw, but Sobieraski drained one from the top of the key to cut the Lancaster lead to one, 48-47.

What could have been the nail in the coffin, another Siresi trey, was negated by two straight Guyton baskets to tie the game at 51-51 with just over three minutes to go.

Glenn couldn’t miss by now and her outside shot gave Lockport a 53-51 lead with 2:40 left. Healy sank a free-throw, but Guyton drove for two and it was 55-52 LHS with 100 seconds left.

Siresi sank two freethrows to cut the LHS lead to one, 55-54, but Cheatham drove to the hoop and tossed in a nice running one-hander with 28.1 seconds left to round out the scoring and set the stage for Healy’s final attempt.

“I thought our kids played terrific,” Catalano said. “I didn’t expect the shooting percentage for either team to be so high. It was exciting.”

Shaw said he felt empathy for Catalano, a former Lockport junior varsity girls basketball coach. “She did a great job this year and she’s someone who has been with us for a long time. I think it was one of those games where it’s the kind where you hate to see somebody lose,” Shaw said.

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