Lady Thunderbirds win quarterfinal

OBSERVER File Photo Chautauqua Lake’s Jesse Zenns dribbles during the Lady Thunderbirds’ Dec. 16 win over Tapestry. Chautauqua Lake beat the Buffalo charter school again Thursday, this time in a Class C quarterfinal.

MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds proved on Thursday that their upset of previously-undefeated Southwestern may not have been much of an upset after all.

Chautauqua Lake is on its way to the Class C semifinals after a dominant win over sixth-seeded Tapestry, 86-27, on Thursday night in a girls playoff basketball game at Chautauqua Lake High School.

Chautauqua Lake (15-6, 3-seed) played its final home game of the year on Thursday on a long layoff. The Lady Thunderbirds had not played since the dominant 62-38 win over Southwestern on Feb. 12.

“We’ve been chomping at the bit to play,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Bill Persons. “Coming off of a really good performance against Southwestern, I was kind of wondering how they were going to come out.”

Chautauqua Lake could not have looked any more ready at the start. The Lady Thunderbirds began the game on a 13-0 run in the first 3:31 of the first quarter, and closed out the first frame on an 8-0 run to hold a 27-4 lead after the first quarter.

“Obviously, a 27-4 first quarter made a statement,” said Persons. “It really showed the way the game was going to go for us.”

Senior Jesse Zenns led the way early for Chautauqua Lake, with seven of the first nine points in the game, and nine in the first quarter.

“Our inside game was really coming along,” said Persons. “Jesse Zenns was getting a lot of rebounds and a lot of high percentage putbacks. That got us up really quick.”

Chautauqua Lake kept rolling in the second quarter, with a 14-0 run over a five minute stretch to put the Lady Thunderbirds up by 35 points late in the first half. Chautauqua Lake led 46-11 at halftime.

The second half was much of the same for Chautauqua Lake. The Lady Thunderbirds outscored Tapestry 19-6 in the third quarter and 21-10 in the fourth period, despite most of the starters not playing in the final quarter for Chautauqua Lake.

The most interesting moment in the second half may have been when a shot bounced off the rim and got wedged between the backboard and the cables above the basket. Coach Persons retrieved a spare ball from the backroom in the gym and attempted to knock the ball down. After missing the first attempt, Persons connected on the second try, knocking the ball down and through the net. Persons grinned and the home crowd erupted in cheers.

“After the first quarter, that was the most pressure I felt all night,” said Persons. “It was like one of those fair games.”

In addition to Zenns’ game-high 16 points in her final home game, Chautauqua Lake got 14 points off the bench from Lily Woodis.

“One that sticks out big-time was Lily Woodis,” said Persons. “She’s just been putting up some crazy numbers coming off the bench… she’s confident in herself and I can do no wrong putting her in more.”

Chautauqua Lake now heads to the Class C semifinals in Jamestown next week to face off with second-ranked Allegany-Limestone, led by Morgan Davis and head coach Frank Martin.

Persons says that Allegany-Limestone is a team the Lady Thunderbirds were looking forward to playing all season long, after ousting the Lady Gators in the playoffs last season. Now, the two will meet again with a spot in the Class C final on the line.

Twitter: @bradencarmen