It was a tale of opposite halves at Kenmore West High School.
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
An upset sure looked good for a while there, didn’t it?
But a dominating first-half Lockport performance and 9-point lead did little more than awaken a sleeping giant in Friday night’s Section VI Class AA girls basketball semifinal at Kenmore West High School.
Top-seeded Jamestown out-played, out-muscled, out-hustled and out-scored the No. 4 Lady Lions 29-10 in the third quarter and 46-21 in the second half to earn a 64-47 victory and a shot at No. 3 Williamsville North on Wednesday night at Buffalo State College for the 2014 AA championship.
“We knew Jamestown wasn’t going to lay down in the second half and we needed to handle it better and we didn’t and that’s why we lost,” said LHS coach Karen Catalano.
It was a tale of two halves — or more like a tale of two dimensions.
Lockport sophomore Gretta Dry and juniors Hailey Bechtold and DeAnna Wiley each nailed first quarter 3-pointers, while the Lady Red Raiders (18-2) threw up one brick after another and really couldn’t get any offensive rhythm going as Lockport jumped out to 17-11 lead after one quarter.
It was more Lockport in the second as senior Sara Franco and junior Alyssa Wagner dominated inside and Jamestown’s shooting struggles continued unabated.
The Lady Lions went to the locker room at halftime leading 26-17 and the large, vocal, animated LHS student section was having a pig roast.
“I was upset with the way we played, but our girls were more upset with themselves,” said Jamestown head coach Tim Anderson.
“They knew it was the worst first half we’ve played all year, but the fact that we were down by only nine points gave us the confidence that we were still in a three-possession game and could make a run. Obviously, we came out with a lot of energy and erased the Lockport lead quickly in the second half.”
The Lady Red Raiders came out of their locker room with steam pouring out of their ears and promptly produced a game-changing 18-2 run that the let air out of the Lady Lions balloon. A pair of 3-pointers from Peyton Butts and a dozen points from Chrisanna Green were the catalysts in a 29-point third quarter for the Lady Red Raiders, who now led, 46-36 after three.
Jamestown coasted in the fourth, but not before Green hit two more threes to finish with a game-high 27 points. Butts added 21 and Anne Campion had 13 for the winners.
The Lady Lions countered with a sensational grand finale effort from Franco (7 rebounds), who went out swinging, earning every one of her team-high 23-points.
“Sara’s a special player. Real steady. One of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet,” Catalano said. “Her presence will be missed.”
Wagner finished with 13 points for Lockport. Bechtold, Dry and Wiley had three apiece and freshman point guard Carissa DiTullio added 2.
“We played hard tonight,” Franco said. “I’m glad I got to end it with these great girls. We left it all on the court. That’s all we could do.”
For Lady Lions senior stalwarts Kennedy Smith and Roserita DiMillo, it was their final game in a blue and gold basketball uniform
“It was a great experience for me being a Lockport basketball player,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be happier with the experience that I had.”
Added DiMillo, “We had a lot of fun. We’re like sisters. We all love each other.”
The future remains expremely bright in Lockport with several experienced underclassmen returning in 2014-15.
“We’ve got an experienced point guard now and an experienced two guard (Dry) and we’ve got Hailey and Alyssa coming back and (Katherine) Krchniak and Brooklyn (Camarra) will be ready to step it up,” Catalano said.
“Hopefully this experience will serve as motivation when they get to this point in the season next year.”
Will North defeated Niagara Falls, 43-35, in Friday night’s other AA girls semifinal at Ken West.
GAME NOTES — Among those attending the game were Wilson girls basketball coach Brian Baker, whose team will play Akron at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Class B-2 girls basketball title game at Buffalo State College. Also there was legendary Ken West girls hoops coach Mike Licata, former Niagara-Wheatfield girls head coach Diane Fegatilli and former LHS girls basketball coaches Bill Shaw and Pete Dickinson.