KENMORE - As Williamsville North absconded off the court at Kenmore West High School on Friday evening, one question above all others must have been running through its collective mind: How in the world did we ever beat those guys?
Yes, Jamestown's victory was that complete.
Using its Jan. 30 loss to the Lady Spartans (11-9) as fuel for the fire - it was Jamestown's lone league loss this season - No. 1 Jamestown (17-3) made exceedingly easy work of their fifth-seeded foes this time around with a 78-37 Section 6 Class AA semifinal victory.
Jamestown’s Anne Campion goes up for two points among a trio of Williamsville North players during Friday night’s Section 6 Class AA girls basketball semifinal. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
While Jamestown coach Mark Nugent watches from the bench, Chrisanna Green of the Lady Red Raiders punches away a shot by Williamsville North’s Ericka Taplin during Friday night’s Section 6 Class AA girls basketball semifinal. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
It was, according to coach Mark Nugent, his squad's best showing to date.
"We were talking about that at the bench after the game," he said with a smile. "This was the best game we've played so far this season. You can go right down the line (and highlight) all 13 kids. They've been working so hard and now they're really playing together.
"It's what we've been looking for since November."
With senior Karisha Tapia at the forefront - in three quarters of play she poured in a game-high 20 points to go with three steals, three assists and three rebounds - and a host of others making an impact on both the offensive and defensive ends as well, the Lady Red Raiders led from start to finish and dominated much of the major statistical categories.
In all, Jamestown forced 29 turnovers, made 20 steals and won the rebounding battle, 38-24.
Employing a slightly-altered full-court press - Williamsville North had handled the Lady Red Raiders' pressure defense the last time these two squads met - Jamestown deflated its opponents early by racking up numerous turnovers and, in turn, easy baskets.
"Yeah, we did a few things a little bit differently tonight," Nugent said. "We experimented (with the press changes) in practice a little and it really seemed to work for us."
In the first three minutes of play alone Jamestown opened up a 12-0 lead, with Tapia and Chrisanna Green each scoring four points. Williamsville North eventually managed to find the bottom of the net at the 4:45 mark, but Jamestown immediately answered, this time with a 10-2 run (Tapia scored six straight during this spree) that was capped by a Hannah Pollino trey.
By the end of the whirlwind first period, the Lady Red Raiders owned a hefty, 23-5 advantage.
As it turned out, however, they were just getting started.
Following an Anne Campion fast-break layup and an Olivia Nugent triple, Jamestown would score the next 18 points in a row to balloon an already sizable lead to 36 points, 41-5, with three remaining in the half and eventually made it 41 points, 50-9, by the end of the frame.
At that point the game was, for all intents and purposes, over.
Along with Tapia, who Nugent noted was "absolutely phenomenal," Campion tallied 12 points and made four steals; Green controlled the paint with four blocks, 11 rebounds and six points; and Rosa Velasquez chipped in with six boards of her own to go with four assists.
Williamsville North would fare slightly better in the second half, but still trailed by 47, 67-20, at the end of the third period. It wasn't until Nugent cleared his bench that the Lady Spartans put together a more sustained run, scoring 12 straight (though half were by virtue of the free throw) during the final period before the final buzzer sound.
Jamestown can capture its first sectional title since 2008 if it can defeat sixth-seeded Niagara Wheatfield (14-6), which pulled of an upset by toppling No. 2 Lockport, 50-47, in the other semifinal battle.
"Niagara Wheatfield is a good team, and obviously a good one if they beat Lockport," Nugent said. "I hope we match up with them well. They look like they have a lot of good athletes, they're going to run and we're going to try to run right with them."
The championship game is at Niagara County Community College on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
WILLIAMSVILLE NORTH (37)
Toporski 1 4 6, Hazzan 0 0 0, Wolfe 1 0 2, Cirbus 1 2 5, Delano 0 0 0, Ahern 1 2 5, Principe 1 4 7, Null 2 1 5, Taplin 3 0 7. Totals 10 13 37.
Pollino 2 2 8, Campion 6 0 12, Butts 2 0 5, Nugent 1 0 3, Green 2 2 6, Pannes 1 1 3, Davis 3 0 6, Tucker 0 0 0, Velazquez 2 0 4, Butman 0 0 0, Williams 3 0 7, Tapia 9 0 20, Coleman 2 0 4. Totals 33 5 78.
3-point goals: Cirbus, Ahern, Principe, Taplin, Pollino 2, Butts, Nugent, Williams, Tapia 2.
Williamsville North 5 4 11 17 - 37
Jamestown 23 27 17 11 - 78