Lady Billies fall to Section III powerhouse

SYRACUSE — For Three and a half quarters, the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies stood toe to toe with Bishop Ludden, the state’s No. 3 ranked team in Class B.

But in the end, Section III’s top school pulled away in the final six minutes for a 64-48 victory in the Bishop Ludden girls high school basketball Holiday Tournament.

Going into the game, Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle knew Danielle Rauch was the key player to focus on. Rauch averages nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds a game.

“Coming in, the stats said she was best player,” Zirkle said. “She is a phenomenal point guard. She is great on the drive. She was as good as we heard about. I talked to coaches and they think Bishop is ranked No. 1 in Syracuse for small schools and they are probably the top team in Syracuse — large school and small school. I was very happy.”

For three quarters, the Lady Hillbillies contained Rauch, who had just 11 points entering the final frame. In the fourth quarter, she scored 12 points to finish with a team-high 23 points.

With 6:35 left in regulation, Fredonia trailed just 45-41. From there, the home team went on a 19-7 run to close the game out.

The Lady Hillbillies played strong in the opening half, trailing just 12-7 after eight minutes and 25-23 at halftime, highlighted by key buckets from Katie Price near the end of the half.

Hannah Cybart did her part for Fredonia with a game-high 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Price had 15 points and six rebounds.

“Hannah really did a phenomenal job,” Zirkle said. “Our rebounding was great. Zoya Katta and Morgan St. George did a great job on defense. A lot of people did a lot of little things that don’t show up.”

Hannah Gullo added five rebounds and four assists while Caitlyn Cybart had four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought we played great basketball until four minutes left,” Zirkle said. “Then we struggled. Up until then, we played the best we had all year. This is crucial for our development for the season. We needed to play a team of this caliber. We see that next level. That is a team we have to beat. It was a great learning experience.  We didn’t give up. That’s what we need to do to make a run in the playoffs.”

Fredonia plays in the consolation game today against Wahconah.