Lady Marauders blast Medina to grab Class B1 title game slot

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Dunkirk’s Amari Carter (25) prepares to shoot a free throw as teammate Gina Salerno (21) looks on during Thursday’s Class B1 semifinal victory over Medina.

KENMORE – The No. 11 seeded Dunkirk Lady Marauders defeated No. 10 seed Medina, 51-25, in the Class B1 semifinals on Thursday at Kenmore West High School.

Dunkirk began the game on an 8-0 run in the first three minutes of action, highlighted by 3-pointers from Jessica Beehler and Olivia Smith.

Dunkirk continued to stifle the Lady Mustangs throughout the first quarter, keeping the 10th seed scoreless the entire period of play. Dunkirk led 13-0 after the first quarter, but it could have been even more.

Beehler hit a half-court heave at the end of the quarter, but it was waved off by the officials, claiming the clock expired before the shot was released.

Still, the Lady Marauders headed into the second quarter full of energy, with shouts of “Let’s go!” echoing in the gym.

“It pumped everyone up,” said Dunkirk coach Darnell Baldwin.

Baldwin credits the team’s preparation as to what led to the early advantage.

“I put them through so much in the past couple of days in practice,” said Baldwin. “I wanted to make sure practice was harder than anything they would face come game time.”

Dunkirk continued to have its way with Medina in the second quarter. The Lady Marauders scored the first 10 points of the frame, extending the Dunkirk lead to 23-0, just past the halfway point of the quarter.

Medina scored its first point of the game on a free throw with 3:14 remaining in the second quarter. Dunkirk led 25-5 at the break.

Dunkirk did not allow Medina back in the game in the second half. The Lady Marauders outscored Medina 11-9 in the third quarter, and led by 21 heading to the final period. After an Amari Carter lay-in gave the Marauders a 46-18 lead with under four minutes remaining, Baldwin pulled his five sophomore starters.

Dunkirk closed out Medina and earned its spot in the B1 final, after winning every game as a lower seed on its way. Dunkirk upset a No. 6 seed, a No. 3 seed and Medina, a No. 10 seed, to put the 11th-seeded Lady Marauders in the title game.

Kymi Nance led Dunkirk with 13 points, while Smith had 12 points, all on 3-pointers. The five starting sophomores combined for 46 of the 51 points for Dunkirk.

“A lot of people had doubted us,” said Nance. “(We) pulled our heads out of it and could do it.”

“It seemed like everything was clicking,” said Baldwin. “It seemed like this is our year. This was our moment.”

Baldwin, in his first year as Dunkirk coach, took over a team that won only one game last season. Now, a team starting five sophomores, who went on the road for every game in the postseason, is headed to Buffalo State to face cross-town rival Fredonia.

“The belief that we have, not only coming from myself, but coming from their community and their parents, they feel like they can touch the sky,” said Baldwin.

Twitter: @bradencarmen