Senior Night nail-biter

Lady Marauders defeat Olean in thrilling fashion, 61-59

OBSERVER Photos by Roger Coda Dunkirk senior Alexis Tofil attempts a shot while guarded by Olean’s Sophia Aiello (30) and Hannah Aiello (3) in the first half of Dunkirk’s narrow 61-59 victory over the Lady Huskies on Senior Night.

What a fight on Senior Night. The Dunkirk Lady Marauders (8-12, 4-8) won a pulsating, back-and-forth CCAA West 1 contest over Olean, 61-59, Wednesday night at Dunkirk High School.

The Lady Huskies’ Elyse Graham had an open three-point shot at the buzzer to win — and she had already hit three three-pointers, back in the third quarter. But it rimmed out, and Kymi Nance’s bucket with 52 seconds left to break a 59-all tie stood as the game-winner.

The teams traded three-pointers to get to that point. Olean’s Hannah Aiello, who led all scorers with 20 points, hit a three-pointer with 1:48 left for a 59-56 Lady Huskies lead. But Olivia Smith answered back seconds later with her fifth three-pointer of the half to tie it.

“Smith), we just lost track of her way too many times and she hit them when they found her,” Olean coach Randy Samuelson said.

Dunkirk coach Darnell Baldwin said his team showed improvement in areas it’s been working on.

Dunkirk sophomore Kymi Nance drives to the basket in traffic.

“Trapping on our press, we did that very well,” he said. “We always dictated the tempo (of the game).”

The whole game was close, with plenty of lead changes. Olean (7-13, 2-10) jumped out to a 13-10 lead after one quarter, after Dunkirk’s lone senior, Alexis Tofil, was honored in a pre-game ceremony. The Lady Marauders opened with a 6-2 run, but the Lady Huskies answered back with by outscoring the hosts, 11-4, the rest of the quarter.

The game was tied 23-all at the half. An Aiello bucket gave Olean an 18-12 lead early in the quarter, but Dunkirk answered back with eight straight points, punctuated by a thunderous Amari Carter drive that ended with her hitting the layup despite getting bopped in the nose (she missed the free-throw).

Smith hit one of her beyond-the-arc shots with 33 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Lady Marauders a 44-42 lead heading into the final period. Smith had six threes in total for the game to make herself Dunkirk’s leading scorer with 18 points.

The final quarter was a nail-biter which saw Olean play better after a Samuelson timeout with 6:01 remaining, after Smith hit yet another open three for a 49-43 Dunkirk advantage. The Lady Huskies then went on a 13-2 run ended by a Jessica Beehler three-pointer for Dunkirk. Soon after, with 2:06 remaining, the Lady Marauders’ Kymi Nance hit a shot to the tie the game at 56-all.

“Kymi Nance, shout-out to her,” Baldwin said. “She did a phenomenal job … if she plays extremely well like that every single night, we will win more games than we lose.”

“I’m proud of them for the effort they had,” Samuelson said of his Lady Huskies. “We haven’t been getting great results, but the effort was there, and with a little bit of luck, we would have won that game. Their player made a bucket, our players missed two or three buckets at the end. It is what it is.”

The regular season is now done for both teams, who await the results of Saturday’s Section 6 seeding meeting to find out who they start the playoffs against next week.

“I believe that if we can just take care of the basketball, play the right way and play as a team, then we should shock a couple of people come playoffs,” Baldwin said.

NOTES: Nance had 15 points, six assists and five steals for Dunkirk. Carter came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds for the team. Beehler scored nine points and added six assists, while Nadara O’dell added eight rebounds and six points. … Justine Brooks had 14 points for Olean, and Graham had 11. No non-scoring statistics were available for the Lady Huskies.