Havoc wreaked

Snow day gives Lady?Hillbillies unexpected day off

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia’s Zoya Katta (14), who is nursing a twisted ankle, benefitted from the unexpected day off Fredonia had Tuesday when Governor Andrew Cuomo put New York in a state of emergency ahead of a winter storm.

Practice make perfect.

Coaches have been spouting that old coaching axiom for as long sports have been played.

On Tuesday, however, very few, if any of the remaining teams or athletes still competing in a winter sport were able to do much of anything due to the fact that March has decided once again to come in like a lion.

Carol Zirkle, the Fredonia varsity girls basketball coach, wished it was coming in like a lamb, or perhaps a playful cub, rather than the fierce beast the weather became early Tuesday. At least in this neck of the woods.

The Lady Hillbillies (20-6) are one of just four teams left in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class B girls basketball tournament, as they will face Section I’s Irvington (23-1) in the NYSPHSAA semifinals on Friday at 11:45 a.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

After Governor Andrew Cuomo declared New York was in a state of emergency Monday night, the 20-year varsity coach, who was slightly annoyed with Cuomo’s decision, knew there were some benefits that surely came with unscheduled day off.

“Obviously I would have liked to practice,” Zirkle, who is in her 17th season as Lady Hillbillies’ head coach, said. “There were some things that we would have liked to gone over, but on the other hand, we had gone so many days hard, in a row, throughout the playoffs, that I don’t think the extra day off was good for the kids.”

With school canceled again today, Zirkle and her girls find themselves a bit more behind the proverbial 8-ball.

“If we’re talking (tonight) and we haven’t practiced, I will probably be fit to be tied,” she said Tuesday night prior to Fredonia canceling school today.

If it was any consolation, Irvington, which is located in Westchester County, just north of New York City, was also off Tuesday.

“I feel like my team, we’ve been very focused for the last three, four, or five weeks,” Zirkle said. “We’ve been very focused and we’ve been working hard.”

Despite the cold weather, the cancelation of practice and another unexpected day off today, Zirkle was able to see the silver lining.

“On the other hand, we’ve only had two days to prepare for every other playoff game,” Zirkle said. “It’s not like we’re doing something less than what we have been doing. We practiced (Monday), hopefully we’re there (today) and we’re practicing Thursday, so we’ll still have three practices to get ready. Whereas for every other playoff game we’ve only had two or less (practices).

“We’re ahead of the game from where we have been for each of (the other playoff games),” she added. “And a lot of what we’ve been doing to prepare for one team has carried over to the next team. What we do on offense and what we do on defense has carried over. And we’ve seen a lot of different defenses over the last eight or 10 games, so it’s not like we’re coming in and preparing something brand new for this team offensively or defensively.”

And the day off was especially needed for those on the team that may be nursing some nagging or new injuries.

“Zoya Katta twisted her ankle in the last minute (against) Wilson,” Zirkle noted. “So the day off was definitely in her best interest.

“I just gave them the day off,” Zirkle added. “They had the day off to rest up and do whatever they wanted to. I talked to a couple of them and I tried to get into a couple places locally to practice, but we weren’t able to get into any of the places I tried. But that’s OK. We did a hard practice (Monday) and a film session.”

During the regular season games and practices being canceled due to inclement weather is par for the course in western New York, but as the calendar turns to March, the hope is that those instances are non-existant or very few and very far between.

“We’ve had this happen for big regular-season games,” Zirkle said. “But there’s a difference between this happening be000000fore a playoff game and even a big regular-season game. This is sort of unchartered territory for us.”