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Lady Marauders advance

Dunkirk beats Olean for third time this month in playoff opener 70-54; Kymi Nance passes sister to become program’s all-time leading scorer

Dunkirk’s Kymi Nance (14) blows by the Olean defense in transition on the way to two of her 15 points in Tuesday’s Section VI, Class B1 girls basketball opening round playoff game at Dunkirk High School. The Dunkirk Lady Marauders defeated the visiting Olean Lady Huskies 70-54, while Nance passed her sister, Khee, for Dunkirk’s all-time scoring record. OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot.

Referencing facing divisional opponents in the postseason, coaches often say, “It’s hard to beat a team three times.”

The Dunkirk Lady Marauders didn’t have that problem on Tuesday against the visiting Olean Lady Huskies.

Dunkirk took the lead less than two minutes into the game and led the rest of the way to secure a 70-54 victory over Olean in the opening round of the Section VI, Class B1 girls basketball playoffs on Tuesday night at Dunkirk High School.

As good as a playoff win feels, for one Lady Marauder, Tuesday was even more special. With 15 points in Tuesday’s win, Dunkirk senior Kymi Nance broke the all-time Dunkirk girls basketball scoring record, held by her sister, Khee.

“Kymi can be amazing. … I’m extremely proud of her,” said Dunkirk coach Ken Ricker. “She’s taken all the coaching and criticism like a champion.”

In Tuesday’s game, by its own high standards, Dunkirk (20-1, 5-seed) struggled in the early going. After the two teams traded buckets on their opening possessions, the Lady Marauders grabbed their first lead with 6:32 to go in the first quarter on a transition layup by Nance through contact. It was the beginning of a 12-3 scoring run for Dunkirk, including 3-pointers by Olivia Smith and Jessica Beehler.

What held the Lady Marauders back in the first quarter was poor free-throw shooting and multiple turnovers in transition. Dunkirk missed its first seven free-throw attempts and finished the first quarter 2-for-10 from the line.

“The free-throws bothered me the most,” said Ricker. “We were getting what we wanted, but we just kept missing. We were really struggling.”

Not many teams could overcome a shooting performance like that, but not many teams are as talented as the Dunkirk Lady Marauders. Dunkirk held a comfortable lead throughout the first quarter, and closed it in style, with the final seven points including a Beehler buzzer-beating 3-pointer from well beyond the arc.

“Jess stole Kymi’s role there,” joked Ricker, referencing Nance’s multiple buzzer-beaters this season. “Part of that is just from having seniors out there. They understand the clock. She didn’t just fling it up there, either. She shot it, even though it was deep. We shoot a lot of threes so we deserve a few of those.”

Dunkirk held a double-digit lead on Olean (3-18, 12-seed) through the entirety of the final three quarters. Dunkirk began the second quarter on a 9-2 run to lead 32-12 with 6:50 left in the first half. Nadara O’Dell had six of the last eight Dunkirk points in the half to bring her total to 14 points in the first half, as Dunkirk led 39-22.

O’Dell added 10 more points in the third quarter to cap off her game-high 24 points. Dunkirk led 58-40 after the third quarter and elected to focus on running the clock out in the final moments, rather than run up the score. Olean played far more physically than a team usually would facing a large deficit with the game already decided.

“Once we got to the fourth quarter, we were just trying to get out of here safely,” said Ricker.

O’Dell’s 24 points to lead all scorers came despite not having a single play called specifically for her, according to Ricker. O’Dell also had 10 rebounds.

“Nadara [O’Dell] is one of the most consistent scorers in Western New York. She scored 24 points with zero plays called for her,” said Ricker.

Nance’s 15 points were the second highest total in the contest, while she also had seven rebounds and four steals. Amari Carter added 12 points, including a 3-pointer to open the second quarter, along with 10 rebounds. Beehler only had eight points, but stuffed the stat sheet with 14 rebounds, 11 assists and six steals. Tachiana Garcia had five points and six steals.

“We wanted to get Amari [Carter] involved more,” said Ricker. “She’s fine with everybody else getting all the accolades … but we need her to get 10-12 a night for us to keep playing.”

Hayliegh Federowicz led Olean with 12 points. No other Olean player scored in double digits.

After 13-seed Medina upset 4-seed Burgard on Tuesday, Dunkirk will now host Medina on Friday in the second round Friday night at 7 p.m. at Dunkirk High School.

“The goal is to play the next day. Our job is to use this to get better,” said Ricker. “Our seniors are undefeated at home this year. Now, we’ll check out Friday and see what happens.”

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