With just 112 seconds left to go, Wilson seniors Jamie Curry, Mallorie Gagnon and Kate Placek took their final bows in a Lakewoman varsity basketball uniform.
By then, Tuesday’s Section VI, Class B championship game against Olean was long lost and Lakewomen head coach Brian Baker wanted to honor their long and distinguished careers properly as fans greeted them with a long, heart-felt standing ovation.
Wilson came up short — literally — against the Lady Huskies, falling 59-36 before a large and vocal crowd at Niagara County Community College.
Lady Huskies head coach Don Scholla used size to his advantage throughout, capitalizing on senior co-captain’s Maggie Moore’s 6-2 frame and strength underneath to improve to 19-3 overall.
“They had size that we didn’t see a lot of in the Niagara-Orleans League,” Baker said. “It was tough going to the basket and trying to score. We just needed to hit more of our open looks outside and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Olean advances to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. New York State Far West Regional against the Section V Class B champion Waterloo Lady Indians (21-1) at Buffalo State College. The winner of that game advances to the state Class B “Final Four.” Waterloo advanced to the state regionals with a 44-39 win over Greece Odyssey in the Section V Class B final on Monday.
“We used our size to our advantage and finished well inside,” Scholla said. “They were very strong defensively and we struggled at times, but our guards were focused for the most part and Kaylee Pearl (game high 15 points, 3 steals, 3 assists) hit some big outside shots.”
Lakewomen junior co-captain Emily Lasher (team-high 13 points, 3 rebounds) was relentless throughout, getting things started with a steal, bucket, offensive rebound and two free-throws in the game’s first 57 seconds to give Wilson a 4-0 lead.
Sophomore Rachel Painter (7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) hit a 3-pointer and moments later Moore (13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) scored on an offensive rebound as Olean reeled off seven straight points to take a lead they would never relinquish. Lasher finished the quarter with 8 points, while co-captain Placek and junior Dana Smith also got on the board, but the Lakwomen trailed 16-12 after the first eight minutes.
The second quarter was all Olean, as they out-scored Wilson 15-3 to take a 31-15 halftime lead. Pearl and Bantelman (7 points) hit tres, while senior co-captain Sara Ziegler (14 points, 10 rebounds), Pearl, Painter, Ziegler and Moore added buckets. Junior guard Allie Bubar’s rebound basket and Lasher’s free-throw was all Wilson could muster offensively.
“Kaylee’s shooting helped get them out of their zone and we were doing a good job defensively on Curry,” Scholla said.
Ziegler did everything but get the mis-placed ball down from the top of the basket, netting seven third-quarter points as Olean out-scored Wilson 14-10 to put the game out of reach after three quarters, 45-25. Smith (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals) shined for the Lakewomen and Curry, who averages 13 points per game, netted her only two points of the night on a pair of free-throws.
Olean’s big girls dominated the first half of the fourth quarter as well Ziegler and Moore combined for nine points and numerous rebounds, then both teams emptied their benches. Bubar, Placek and junior Emily Kam hit baskets for the Lakewomen, but the Lady Huskies coasted to the big victory.
GAME NOTES: Wilson was designated as the home team at Tuesday night’s Class B girls final. They wore white, with black and orange trim. Olean wore their maroon away jerseys with gold trim ... Lockport Community Television covered the game on tape-delay with announcers Jim Slowey and Danny Sheehan ... Among the many local coaches and administrators attending the game were NCCC Lady Thunderwolves women’s basketball head coach Nate Beutel and NCCC athletics director Bob McKeown.