Third time’s the charm

Fredonia advances to Far West Regionals with win over Southwestern

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Fredonia guard Kazlin Beers (2) contests a layup attempt by Southwestern’s Erin Radack (22) on Wednesday at Buffalo State. The Lady Billies defeated Southwestern, a team they fell to twice in the regular season, 42-39, to claim the overall Section VI Class B title and represent Class B in the Far West Regionals on Saturday at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School near Rochester.

BUFFALO — When the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies need some buckets, they often count on Katie Price. Wednesday night, she came through. And Fredonia is the Section 6 Class B champion again.

Fredonia’s top scorer hit three consecutive three-pointers in the third quarter to give her team a double-digit lead, then sank what turned out to be the game-winning trey with 1:52 left to power the Class B2 champion Lady Hillbillies (13-12) over Class B1 champ Southwestern, 42-39, in high school girls basketball playoff action at Buffalo State College.

“They switched out of the box-and-one (defense) and Katie got open for three threes,” Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said. “We had a lots of different players doing lots of good things, but that was a momentum shift for us. We struggled to get the offense going and that really gave us the spark we needed.”

“We didn’t execute as well as we normally do on offense today,” Southwestern coach Dave Turnbull said. “Credit goes to Fredonia. They got us out of rhythm and out of sync a little bit, especially in the first half. I thought we adjusted pretty well in the second half, we just didnt have it down the stretch today.”

The Lady Billies, seeded No. 5 in Class B1, advance to the Far West Regionals against Section V Class B champion Midlakes, from Ontario County. The top-seeded Screaming Eagles are undefeated, sporting a 24-0 record. The game will be 7 p.m. Saturday at Rush-Henrietta High School near Rochester. The winner of Saturday’s game will go to the state final four at Troy March 17-18 and will be two wins away from a statewide Class B title.

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Fredonia senior Katie Price hoists the plaque while celebrating with her teammates after defeating Southwestern on Wednesday.

The Lady Trojans (21-3) came back hard after the last of Price’s third-quarter threes gave Fredonia a 32-22 lead and Turnbull called timeout. They ended the third quarter down just two and took a 36-34 lead with 5:25 left on Erin Radack’s scoop shot.

In fact, Fredonia didn’t score in the final period until Kazlin Beers hit a free throw with 2:55 left. Beers then connected from the floor on the Lady Billies’ next possession to make it a 39-37 Southwestern lead, setting up Price’s game winner.

That led to a wild finish.

The Lady Trojans turned the ball over on their possession after Price’s shot, and the Lady Billies promptly coughed it back up. Radack was fouled driving the lane with 10 seconds left, but missed both free throws. Fredonia got the rebound and Southwestern was forced to foul to get the ball back. Price hit two free throws with five seconds on the clock for the last of her game-high 16 points.

With no timeouts and time almost up, Radack dribbled the ball upcourt very quickly on the inbound pass and launched an NBA-range three-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime. The shot looked good but was just a bit too hard, bouncing off the backboard square and the front of the rim as the clock expired.

It was time for Fredonia to celebrate a second consecutive trip to the Far West Regionals.

“These kids have worked so hard,” Zirkle said of her team. “They are peaking at the right time.”

Outside the Southwestern locker room, Turnbull was talking proud about his team.

“All the girls played their hearts out for us and for each other,” he said. “I told them the hardest thing for me is not just basketball season’s over, but I’m not going to get to see them every day, because they’re great students and great kids and I love all of them.”

NOTES: Radack led Southwestern scorers with 10 points … Lady Trojans senior captain Alanna Dibble was a dominant rebounder all game, finishing with a whopping 27 boards. She added nine points. “What stuck out to me was how relentless Alanna Dibble was all game long… I’ve never seen anythng like it,” Turnbull said … Southwestern freshman Sofia Genareo had 10 rebounds, six points and three steals … Fredonia sophomores Beers and A’Cetta Farriat each had nine points. Farriat had 11 rebounds and Beers made five steals … Farriat and Radack were honored as the Section 6 Character Athletes of the Game.