Familiar outcome

Cybart twins spark Lady Billies past Lady Marauders

OBSERVER Photos by Ron Szot At left, Dunkirk’s Jessica Beehler drives to the basket against Fredonia's Hannah Gullo during Tuesday’s CCAA West 1 girls high school basketball game against Fredonia. At right, Fredonia’s Gracie Morrison pulls down a rebound.

The Fredonia Lady Hillbillies (11-4, 8-1) moved a bit closer to securing the CCAA West 1 girls basketball title Tuesday night with their 60-21 drubbing of arch-rival Dunkirk (1-12, 0-8).

A big part of the Lady Hillbillies’ success Tuesday night in the Dunkirk Senior High School gym, as it is almost every night they play, was the shooting of Hannah and Caitlyn Cybart, who combined for 25 of Fredonia’s 34 first-half points.

“They’ve been four-year starters and you just know that they’re going to come in and play their best,” Fredonia head coach Carol Zirkle said of the senior twins. “They’re great shooters, they’re hustlers, they play great defense, they just bring a lot to the game. And the fact that they’ve been on the varsity for so long means that I just have confidence that they’re going to go out and do the best they can on any given night. This isn’t the case (Tuesday), but I know if their shooting is off, that they’re going do all the other little things, and that’s really nice to be able to count on that.”

The Cybarts were able to do their damage due in large part to the Lady Hillbillies’ ability to move the ball on offense and find the open shooter.

“We were really trying to work on the ball movement,” Zirkle said. “We have so many players that can shoot the 3-pointer, and we can get the 3-point shot, but a lot of times, it’s about getting the best shot. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on… Moving the ball within the offense and not shooting off the first pass.”

“I think at times we were defending them really, really well and at times I think we just got tired, or whatever,” Dunkirk head coach Josh Case said of the Cybarts. “But they’re good, and if you leave them open, they’re going take you out. (Hannah) didn’t miss many open threes, so it really is just one of those learning experience where they need to know that they have to cover everybody all the time.”

Hannah Cybart was not the only Lady Hillbilly who didn’t miss many open 3-pointers, as Fredonia finished with 11, three of which came from Katie Price, who sparked a 13-2 third-quarter run with eight points, helping her team boost its lead to 47-11 with 3:20 remaining in the frame.

“Katie Price played a great game for us,” Zirkle said. “She’s got the experience, she plays well, she had 13 points and had a great third quarter for us. She’s a very good shooter and she usually has a lot of assists for us. We’ve got great players and I was really happy to see so many of them step up and score and do the little things.”

Hannah Cybart, who finished with a game-high 16 points, capped the 13-2 run while Maddison Goss added another of the Lady Hillbillies’ 11 3-pointers. Gracie Morrison added a bucket as Fredonia took a 57-16 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We’re going to make young mistakes and (Fredonia) is going to capitalize on them,” Case said. “It’s hard to keep everybody motivated and their heads in the game when they’re doing the best they can and they’re still not playing up to where the other team is playing. But it’s a learning experience and they now know what it takes to (play like a successful team), so now we’ve just got to find a way to become that.”

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Dunkirk’s Nadara O’Dell (5) grabs a defensive rebound will teammates and members of the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies look on during Tuesday’s CCAA West 1 girls high school basketball game.

The scoring dried up in the fourth quarter, as Zirkle emptied her bench and the young Lady Marauders continued to struggle finding ways to score.

“There’s definitely a lot of coachable moments,” Case said. “Just sitting there watching, you can say to them, ‘When they do this, you’ve got to do that.’ And I think at moments we did that very well, we just didn’t do it consistently. But I think that’s going to come with getting older and getting used to each other at this level and this speed, because for some of them, the speed at this level is very fast, so it’s going to take some time for some of them to get there.”

Fredonia got six points from freshman A’Cetta Farrait and another basket from fellow freshman Kazlin Beers while Dunkirk’s points came via a bucket by freshman Nadara O’Dell and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by yet another freshman, Olivia Smith.

“That freshman group, they’ve played together for so long,” Case said. “And we’re really asking a lot of some of these kids to come from jayvees to varsity, because most of them only had four or five games at the jayvee level and then we asked them to come up to varsity. So I think that group can be really good and they seem to be committed to putting in that time outside of November to February.”

O’Dell and freshman teammate Jessica Beehler led the Lady Marauders with five points each. But despite the youth on Case’s team, he thinks this group is poised to do big things in the years to come, especially in terms of the rivalry with Fredonia.

“We talked about that in the locker room,” Case said of his team striving to find the success that the Lady Hillbillies have seen. “And we do have the potential to be there, but we have to be willing to make mistakes to get there. They’re not just going to wake up one day and be light’s out. It’s going to be a process, but they also have to be motivated to go through that process. If you keep running into the wall, eventually you stop wanting to run into in, but we have to get them past running into the wall as an excuse to kind of step back, and get them to want to run through the wall.

As for the Lady Hillbillies, their sights are set on a league title and a successful run in the playoffs. And with the experience they have, including not only the Cybart twins and Price, who is just a junior, but also three-year senior starters Morgan St. George and Zoya Katta, Fredonia is poised to continue to do great things in 2017.

“Zoya (Katta) and Morgan (St. George) have three years on varsity, so that senior core group has been with me for a lot of years,” Zirkle said. “And they know what has to be done. I don’t have to say it, they go out and they know how to play. So, as a coach it makes it easy.”

Dunkirk is back in action on Friday when it travels to Olean for a 6 p.m. tip-off.

NOTES: Hannah Cybart added seven rebounds and four assists to go with her 16 points… Morrison chipped in seven rebounds and five blocks… Hannah Gullo had five rebounds and five assists… Beers, Katta and St. George combined for nine of the Lady Hillbillies’ 15 steals.