Dunkirk, Fredonia in semifinals spotlight

The fate of two local rivals’ Section 6 Class B1 girls basketball playoff runs will be decided tonight on the court of Kenmore West Senior High School in Buffalo. Fifth-ranked Fredonia looks to advance to a stage the Lady ‘Billies are used to, while 11th-seeded Dunkirk hopes to keep its magical playoff run alive, as each plays semifinals.

Dunkirk: The Lady Marauders will take on No. 10 seed Medina. Led by Madison Williams’ 22 points, along with double-doubles from Camri King and Jene Brown, Medina is coming off a 63-39 upset win over second-seeded International Prep to reach the semifinals.

Dunkirk knows that story all too well, as the Marauders followed a similar narrative through the B1 bracket. An underdog throughout the tournament, coach Darnell Baldwin’s squad is the lowest remaining seed in any class of girls basketball in all of Section VI. After upset wins on the road over sixth-seeded Depew and third-ranked City Honors, only the No. 10 seed remains in the way of the Lady Marauders taking a shot at the Class B1 title.

Dunkirk is going against the common perception that experience is crucial in playoff games. The Lady Marauders are filled with sophomores all throughout the rotation. From Kymi Nance and Jessica Beehler in the back court, to Nadara Odell and Amari Carter down low, the youthful Lady Marauders may just be too young to care what the doubters say.

Dunkirk needs to control the boards tonight. The top three scorers for Medina combined for 37 rebounds in the upset of International Prep in the quarterfinals. Carter and Odell need to have big numbers on the boards if Dunkirk is going to advance to the B1 finals.

After the thrilling victory for the Lady Marauders on Senior Night, Dunkirk has been writing quite the Cinderella story ever since. Don’t look now, but the Lady Marauders have another shot to shock the bracket again tonight.

Fredonia: The Lady ‘Billies are less of a surprise to see in the final four of the class. Though stars Caitlyn and Hannah Cybart graduated, they did return most of the team that made a run to the final four of the New York State tournament last season.

But that doesn’t make things any easier for Carol Zirkle’s squad tonight. Because the tournament does not re-seed after each round, the Lady ‘Billies face off with the top team in the class tonight, the 20-1 Newfane Lady Panthers.

Fredonia has faced tough competition all season long. In addition to a challenging CCAA West 1 schedule that featured games against Southwestern (No. 3 seed, Class B2) and Chautauqua Lake (No. 3 seed, Class C), the Lady ‘Billies scheduled non-league games that included Lake Shore (No. 3 seed, Class A2), Franklinville (No. 2 seed, Class D) and Allegany-Limestone (No. 2 seed, Class C). Still, despite playing a total of nine games in the regular season against those eventual top-three postseason seeds, Fredonia may face its toughest test yet in Newfane.

The Lady Panthers are led by Paige Emborsky, a senior guard who averages over 22 points per game in her fifth season as a varsity player. Emborsky’s 463 points on the season are second in all of Section VI. Fredonia will need to focus on containing Emborsky if the Lady ‘Billies plan to move on to the B1 title game.

Katie Price leads a Fredonia team with five seniors on the roster. Averaging over 15 points per game on the year, Price needs to be a factor for Fredonia offensively. Yet, the focus of the game will be defensively for Fredonia. It will be up to Kazlin Beers, Hannah Gullo, and maybe Price, as well, to shut down Newfane’s star guard.

Fredonia has been in this position before. Tonight, Zirkle’s team needs to play its best game of the season to move on for another title shot at Buffalo State on Sunday.

Twitter: @bradencarmen