Price’s best game yet not enough in the end

TROY — Katie Price had the game of her life Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get Fredonia past Irvington in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals.

Price scored a career-high 29 points, including 20 in the third quarter alone, to help the Lady Hillbillies get back in the game at the Edward F. McDonough Sports Complex on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College.

“She comes in and has an amazing last couple of games,” veteran Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said of Price. “I’ve seen that potential in her all year.”

The junior scored in a variety of ways, driving to the basket, hitting from long range, and even scoring on a buzzer-beater to pull Fredonia within six heading into the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 18 late in the first half.

“I think we could’ve played with them like we did in the second half,” Price said. “We really just didn’t start off strong like we usually do.”

Price didn’t even score her first points of the third quarter until a free throw with 5:31 showing on the clock. The foul that led to her two attempts at the charity stripe put the Lady Bulldogs in the penalty for the rest of the period.

“I was a little hesitant to take my shots in the first half, but somebody had to score and step up so I just decided to drive,” Price said. “They were in foul trouble so I just decided to start going in.”

The 5-foot-7 guard followed her first point with a bucket that led to an Irvington timeout with 5:11 left. On their next possession, the Lady Hillbillies rebounded a missed free throw and followed that with a missed 3-point attempt before Price converted a three-point play to make it 36-27 with 4:26 left.

Price then scored another two points before another offensive rebound on a missed 3-point attempt led to another three-point play from Price with 3:35 left.

“Katie stepped up and had an amazing game shooting and driving to the hoop. In the third quarter we knew they were in foul trouble so we tried to keep taking it,” Zirkle said. “Katie has the best drive on the team, … she has a quick first step and she finishes well around the hoop. She really carried us through that third quarter.”

After a pair of free throws and an Irvington turnover, Price hit her first 3-pointer of the day for a personal five-point run to make it 45-37 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs.

Price made another basket with 1:07 left before nailing a 15-foot jump shot at the buzzer to cap her 20-point quarter and pull Fredonia within six heading into the final period.

“She was amazing. She took the team on her shoulders. That’s a career game for her and to do it on this stage is just amazing,” Zirkle said. “She’s a winner. She was going for it. She played hard, she played smart and it was nice for her to be able to step up.”

Price’s big third quarter was not lost on her opponents, including junior Kelly Degnan who led Irvington with nine rebounds to go along with 17 points.

“No. 20 was really good. She hit a lot of good outside shots,” Degnan said. “That’s why we switched our defense a lot.”

Despite losing four seniors, including three starters, to graduation, Price’s strong finish to the season was a bright spot for Zirkle during an otherwise somber postgame appearance.

“She’s stepped up in a couple of games, but for her to end the season this way, I’m counting on her and Hannah Gullo — the two starters returning — to lead this team next year,” Zirkle said. “They are great players, great people and they work hard. They are very dedicated to the sport.”