Lady Black Knights, Cougars to battle it out for Hae Jude title

OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz Pine Valley’s Kayla Hohl (4) goes for the layup against Cassadaga Valley at the Hae Jude tournament.

SILVER CREEK — The host Black Knights and the Pine Valley Lady Panthers won the opening round games of this season’s Hae Jude Tournament Friday night.

Silver Creek defeated Forestville, 50-25, and Pine Valley outlasted Cassadaga Valley, 46-35, as the high school girls’ basketball season got underway.

The Lady Panthers took control of the opening game early, with Kayla Hohl scoring six of her game-high 27 points in the first half of the first period to help the team start out with an 8-0 lead.

“She’s our horse. She’s going to have to be the leader this year,” Pine Valley coach Dave Pihlblad said of Hohl. “She’s tough to guard, she’s a phenomenal athlete, and when she’s on, she’s on. She really stepped up today when we needed her.”

Cassadaga Valley came back. Meghan LeBaron’s bucket with 1:41 left finally got the Lady Cougars on the board, and two more quick scores made it 8-6 after one period.

When Bella Ruiz hustled after an overthrown Pine Valley pass and netted an easy layup, the Lady Cougars had scored nine straight for a 9-8 second quarter lead. The teams traded the lead the rest of the quarter, but Hohl got penetration and swished an easy one with three seconds left for a 14-13 Lady Panthers lead at halftime.

Pine Valley took over in the third quarter. A Kaylee Crisanti 3-pointer broke a 16-16 tie and the Lady Panthers never trailed again. They used an 14-1 run between the third and fourth quarters to open up a 40-23 lead.

Cassadaga Valley, however, refused to quit and ran off eight-straight points of their own to close to within nine points and force a Pine Valley timeout with 2:24 remaining. Hohl scored two straight buckets right after that to steady the ship, and help close out the victory.

“We played well in spurts,” said Cassadaga Valley coach Todd Fryberger. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re going to step up to that challenge. My girls fought right to the end.”

“You could definitely tell it was the first game of the season,” Pihlblad said. “At times we looked really good … at other times it was a little frustrating with turnovers and things like that. But everybody knows that’s going to happen in the first game, getting the jitters out and all that.”

Ruiz had 16 points and four steals for Cassadaga Valley. Hohl had five steals of her own for Pine Valley. Leading rebounders were Paige Hitchcock for the Lady Cougars and Kahlen Green for the Lady Panthers, each with seven.

See HAE JUDE, Page B3

The second game was never in doubt. Forestville’s Sylvea Cleary swished a three-pointer early in the opening period for a 3-2 Lady Hornets lead, but the Black Knights then ripped off 19 straight points, with five different players scoring.

Cleary wound up scoring all of her team’s points in the first half as Silver Creek went into the locker room enjoying a 29-8 lead.

“Even though we had control, there were definitely moments when we were playing better basketball,” Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice said. “We were making quick passes, getting to our spots, moving the ball between three or four players and getting those nice, easy buckets — and then we went through periods when we settled for a shot and weren’t patient for a better one.”

The big story of the second half was the third-quarter performance of the Lady Hornets’ Phoebe Kingsfield, who scored 12 points in the period. She finished the game with 15 points to lead her team.

“My girls came alive in the third quarter… they gave me everything they had. Silver Creek’s a tough team, they’re a division ahead of us,” Forestville coach Lisa Szumigala said.

Jaylee Cruz and Abby Rice each scored 16 to lead the Black Knights. Rice had 11 rebounds and eight assists as well, while Emma Rice had five steals for the team.

Ashlee Bailey led Forestville in rebounding with seven.

The teams will return to Silver Creek High School this afternoon for the tournament championship and consolation games.