Bechtold finds the range in43-42 win over Frontier.
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Dueling student sections made it fitting outcome in Lockport’s 43-42 win over Frontier in a Section VI Class AA girls basketball quarterfinal at LHS.
Among many interesting “observations” made by the obnoxious visiting student’s section was that Lockport had “a history of choking,” referring to last fall’s Frontier comeback playoff victory over the visiting football Lions, but in an ironic finish Tuesday night, it was the Lady Falcons who squandered a late, fourth-quarter lead.
With the win, head coach Karen Catalano’s 15-3 Lady Lions advance to a AA semifinal game at 6 p.m. Friday night at Kenmore West High School.
Lockport junior forward Hailey Bechtold was a shooting machine in the first half, sinking four, 3-point baskets and finished with 14 points. Junior Alyssa Wagner led Lockport with 15 tough, inside points. Senior center Sara Franco ripped down a dozen rebounds and added 6 points in her final appearance in a blue and gold uniform in the Lady Lions’ Den.
“We worked hard on defense tonight,” Franco said. “Now, we’re headed to semis.”
Bechtold got things started in a blue and gold way, nailing a three and adding another outside jumper to give LHS an early 5-2 lead. Two straight buckets by Wagner and another tre by Bechtold helped give Lockport a 13-6 lead after one.
The Lady Falcons opened the second with two quick baskets, but Dry buried a three-pointer just as the shot clock expired, then Wagner hit a pair of free-throws to give the Lady Lions an 18-10 lead with 3:39 left in the quarter. Bechtold caught fire again with a three from the corner it was 21-10 Lockport. Moments later and Bechtold hit her fourth and final 3-pointer of the night. Franco’s hard work paid off inside with a basket and Lockport led by 11 at halftime, 26-15.
“We had too many turnovers tonight,” Bechtold said. “Once we stared playing as a team, things started to improve for us.”
Neither team could find the basket in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Franco’s inside bucket gave Lockport its biggest lead (11) at 28-17. The Lady Falcons battled back with five straight points.
Wagner drove for two, but Frontier countered with a field goal. Dry (5 points, 5 steals, 5 assists) stole a pass and was fouled on her layup attempt. She sank both to give LHS a 32-22 lead with 3:23 left in the third. Lockport freshman Kathryn Krchniak scored a huge inside basket to give the home team its final double digit lead of the night at 34-24, but Frontier battled back with 10 straight points to tie the game at 34-34.
Wagner put a stop to the Frontier run with an inside bucket off a nice pass from Krchniak to give Lockport a 36-34 lead after three quarters.
Caisey Lipka’s three-pointer capped a 6-0 Frontier run and gave the visitors a 40-36 lead with just 3:16 left in the game. The confident Frontier student section promptly threw out the word “choke,” which would come back to haunt them immediately.
Back-to-back Wagner buckets driving hard to the basket tied the game at 40-40 with two minutes to go. Moments later and Dry dished to Franco for two as Lockport regained the lead, 42-40 with under a minute to go.
LHS freshman Carissa DiTullio then stepped to the charity stripe with 57 seconds left and sank the first shot in the 1-1 that would ultimately prove to be the game-winning point. DiTullio missed the second free-throw, but Frontier could only muster two three-throws by Kaitlyn Lipka after that as Lexi Rochey’s desperation shot rolled around the rim and out as the final horn sounded.
“I was thinking, ‘You just gotta bring it,’” DiTullio said after the game. “You think about practice and all the shots you take. I just took a deep breath and pushed through it.”