Lady Billies face big challenge in Midlakes

If the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies want to return to the state final four in Troy, they will need to topple a giant.

The Midlakes Screaming Eagles, their opponent today in the Far West Regionals at Rush-Henrietta High School near Rochester, are 24-0 this season. Fredonia, meanwhile, just got above .500 by beating Southwestern in the Section 6 Class B crossover game Wednesday, moving to a season record of 13-12.

Midlakes beat Bath-Haverling in the Section V Class B crossover game by 30 points. It was the Screaming Eagles’ first Class B title in 43 years. Their leading scorer, junior guard Alaina Forbes, averages 25 points a game and had 36 in the 70-40 win over Bath-Haverling. Freshman guard Cara Walker scores almost 14 points a game.

Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle has been studying Midlakes and had plenty to say about them Friday.

“Their tallest player is 5′ 9”,” she said. “They like to run and gun (on offense). They full-court press a lot … Then they drop back to either man or zone. They look to steal — they like to do a lot of fast breaking. When the (opposing team’s) shot goes up, they like to send someone down to do some cherry-picking.”

Despite their undefeated record, Midlakes does not intimidate Zirkle or her Lady Billies.

“We’ve played a very tough schedule. We’ve played games that prepare us for this level of competition,” Zirkle said, noting that regular season opponents Allegany-Limestone, Franklinville and Bishop Ludden are all still alive in their respective playoff brackets.

“We have the experience from last year,” she continued. “We need to come out and execute and take care of the ball. When we do those little things, we can play with any team.”

Nothing Midlakes does will be unfamiliar to her or her players, Zirkle asserted.

“When we look at their players, they’re good,” she said. “But we’ve played against good players … We’ve played against players who drive like they do, players who shoot the threes like they do. Lake Shore does a great job pressing, that’s why we played them.

“I think we’re prepared to face this team. We need to play our game, take care of the ball and play tough defense.”

Though the team is excited to be back at the Far West Regionals, Zirkle said her players are not letting their excitement overtake them.

“I think it’s focused on,we have a job to do, and we’re going out to do that job,” she said.