SILVER CREEK - Friday night at the Silver Creek High School gym, there was more than just a basketball game going on between the Black Knights and the Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds.
Carrying on a tradition set forth by former head coach Rich Norton, the Black Knights once again held a 'Pink out the Gym' event, as it hosted the Lady Thunderbirds in a non-league contest that was set up to help raise money for Aili Makuch, a Chautauqua Lake Student currently battling cancer.
"Tonight was more about the game of life," Silver Creek head coach Tammy Rice said. "It was Winston Churchill who said, 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.' And (the players) did a good thing tonight."
OBSERVER?Photos by Lisa Monacelli
Pictured above, at left, is Silver Creek’s Jordan Brooks bringing the ball up court during the Black Knight’s annual ‘Pink Out the Gym’ game against Chautauqua Lake. Pictured at right is Chautauqua Lake’s Sydney Milliman looking to make a move past Silver Creek’s Jayde Lewis. The Lady?Thunderbirds won the non-league contest, 46-25, finishing their season a perfect 18-0. Next up for both schools will be the Section 6 Class C playoffs, which will begin next week.
Friday night, members of both communities gave what they could to help Makuch, donating nearly $5,000 dollars to her cause, and Rice wanted to thank Mary Gorka, Sonya Pearl and Samantha Jones, three main volunteers who helped put the event together.
As for the game, Chautauqua Lake (18-0) took care of business like they have all season long, dropping Silver Creek, 46-25, completing a perfect regular season.
"It was Senior Night, so there was a lot of emotion," Rice noted. "And a lot of emotion dedicating the game to Aili. So we had a very crazy first quarter. Chautauqua Lake came out strong pressing."
The Lady Thunderbirds led 13-4 after the first eight minutes, taking a 24-13 lead into halftime.
"They're a strong team," Rice said of Chautauqua Lake. "They're aggressive and physical, great at rebounding and quick at moving the ball. We had trouble getting back on defense."
Chautauqua Lake increased it's lead to 39-17 after the third quarter, but were outscored, 8-7, over the game's final eight minutes for the 46-25 final.
"I think we were just nervous," Rice said. "We had a lot of nervous energy and we couldn't handle the pressure. We were making passes that were 2-3 feet above peoples' heads. There was a lot of emotion."
Jenna Einink finished with a game-high 20 points and six blocks while adding a team-high nine rebounds for the Lady Thunderbirds. Also for Chautauqua Lake, Ashton Albanesius had 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals while Tara Hunt finished with seven points, four assists, three steals and as many rebounds.
For Silver Creek, Jayde Lewis had a team-high eight points while Jordan Brooks, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury, finished with seven points and a game high 11 rebounds, adding four blocks.
Despite the loss, Rice knows her players knew that Friday night was more than just about basketball.
"I think at the end of the day, they saw the bigger picture," Rice said. "They saw that there is more to life than basketball. They played hard and they worked hard. They were very compassionate and very generous tonight."
Aili was not on hand for the game Friday, but her father Bill was there to read a special message from his daughter to the all who came out to support her.
"I would like to express how grateful I am to everyone that showed up (Friday)," Aili Makuch said in a text message. "My own school of Chautauqua Lake has been extremely supportive of me through out this journey and I'm forever thankful for their help. Thank you all so much for coming here (Friday) and for helping Silver Creek with this game. And now I would like to thank the coach and the girls of the Silver Creek basketball team. Meeting you all (Thursday), I realized that each and every one of you has a huge heart and that you are determined to do good in your community. The fact that you guys chose to share the proceeds of this game with a student from an opposing school is absolutely amazing. I wish I could find the words to express how much your kindness and generosity truly means to me and my family. And after reading all of your statuses on Facebook about the game (Friday), and how all of you are aware that playing a sport like basketball isn't really all about winning. That it's about friendship, and being there for each other and for others. Thank you so much for your support, everyone."
Dunkirk 82, McKinley 79, OT
BUFFALO - Dunkirk (13-5) finished off its season in style Friday night, dropping McKinley (14-2), 82-79, in overtime, during non-league girls basketball action.
"We couldn't have asked for a better last game to help us prepare for playoffs," Dunkirk head coach Sarah Bogardus said. "We faced a lot of pressure and we had to play through a lot of adversity."
The Lady Marauders were led by Khee Nance, who finished with a game-high 34 points, breaking the all-time Dunkirk mark for points in a career for both males and females.
"I told her after the game," Bogardus noted. "I think she knew she was close, but that's something we really don't talk about, so she can remain focused."
Nance's new mark of 1,070 broke Robert Nalepa's total of 1,039, which he set in 2009.
The Lady Marauders got out to a 22-11 lead after the first quarter, but found themselves in a battle in the second, as McKinley cut the Dunkirk lead to two, 35-33 at the break.
"It was a nail-biter the whole way through," Bogardus said. "Every time someone scored, the lead would change. It was a back-and-forth battle for 36 straight minutes."
Dunkirk used a 20 point third quarter to increase its lead to four, 55-51, as the teams headed to the fourth quarter. McKinley then outscored the Lady Marauders, 22-18, to force the extra period.
In the overtime, Dunkirk edged McKinley, 9-6, to pick up an impressive win as they prepare for the Class B-1 playoffs, which will begin next week.
"This was a huge win for us, because we beat a (Class A) school that had only lost one other game the whole year" Bogardus said. "And it was on their home court."
Nance finished with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks to go with her 34 points while Lacey Clark added 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Also for the Lady Marauders, Dimary Maisonet finished with eight points, three assists and three steals while Jessica Gifford chipped in nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.