BUFFALO - The Gates Chili Spartans played the Jamestown Lady Red Raiders' style of game on Saturday afternoon and the result was a trip the state tournament.
Gates-Chili, which is ranked third in the state, got its running game in gear early and took a 10-point lead at halftime of the Class AA Far West Regional game against Jamestown at Buffalo State College. In the third quarter, the Spartans extended their lead to 20 and rolled to an 80-59 victory.
The Section 5 champions are now 23-0 and advance to the state tournament while JHS, which was trying to reach the state tournament for the first time since 1983-84, ends its season at 18-4.
Jamestown’s Anne Campion drives past a Gates Chili defender during Saturday’s Class AA Far West Regional at Buffalo State. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
And it was quite a season for first-year coach Mark Nugent.
''I told the kids there's some negatives today,'' he said. ''We lost, but overall you've got to be positive with the way you handled things this year. They're Section 6 champions and there's a lot to be proud of.''
And he was proud of his team on Saturday.
''We knew we were in for a fight and I think we gave it all we had,'' Nugent said. ''My kids gave a great effort. I have no problem with the effort they gave.''
After a slow start with mainly free throws providing the points, Gates Chili got its fast break in gear and took a 15-8 lead after four minutes of play.
The Spartans were racing down the court with the Lady Red Raiders in pursuit.
''That's definitely our style,'' Gates Chili coach Tara Graziadel said. ''We knew they played that type of game and it was going to open up a lot for us. We love that, that's definitely the type of play we like to go against.
But the Spartans' lead could have been larger if they hadn't missed quite a few ''bunnies'' and Graziadel pointed to a possible reason for her team missing so many easy inside shots.
''We've played so many types of teams this season and we've prepared ourselves for jump shots because a lot of teams play us in zone,'' she said. ''So when it became so easy to get to the basket I think it was, 'Wait a minute, we're not used to this.'''
Nugent thought his team might benefit from it.
''I thought it would tire them out a little bit,'' he said. ''They're missing those shots and hopefully we can keep up the pace.''
Jamestown quickly came alive with seven straight points, capped by a 3-pointer by Peyton Butts, to tie the game at 15-15 with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
However, Gates Chili answered back with five straight points on a layup by Diona Johnson and a three-point play by Cierra Dillard for a five-point lead which it held at the end of the quarter, 24-19.
Jamestown wouldn't go away as Dzajah Coleman opened the second quarter with a bucket to pull the Lady Red Raiders within three.
The Spartans responded with a 9-2 run spread out among four players to take a 10-point lead. And that's what they led by at halftime, 41-31.
''That's the sign of a good team,'' Nugent said about the Spartans ability to counterpunch every time the Lady Raiders appeared poised for a comeback. ''If it's close, they're going to find a way to get things done and they did.''
To make matters worse for Jamestown was that Karisha Tapia picked up her third foul just before the half ended. When asked his feelings about that, Nugent said, ''Scary. That's big any time you get someone of that caliber in foul trouble.''
Again, the Gates Chili lead could have been larger if not for a bunch I missed ''bunnies'' at the end of fast breaks in the second quarter.
''At halftime I talked with a couple of the players and said, 'Get it out of your head, you're fine,''' Graziadel said. ''You'll be OK the next half.''
Then the Spartans opened the third quarter by missing a ''bunny,'' but they didn't miss much else.
Jamestown continued to apply the press and Gates Chili had no problem breaking it. The Spartans went on a 14-4 run in the first four minutes to take a 20-point lead, 55-35.
Butts hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lady Red Raiders to slow things down for the Spartans, but then Gates Chili, which had been doing all of its scoring inside, did the same on a pair by Johnson.
Jamestown ended up shooting just 4-for-27 from 3-point range.
''We had to be perfect in this game to be successful and that's not going to help,'' Nugent said.
The Spartans still led by 20, 65-45, entering the fourth quarter and maintained that advantage and spread it to 23 just before the final buzzer.
Johnson led the winners with 29 points while Dillard had 15, Lydia Thomas 11 and Skylar Thomas 10.
Anne Campion was Jamestown's leader with points and right behind was Chrisanna Green with 14 and Tapia with 13.
It was the final game for Olivia Nugent, Rosa Valasquez and Campion.
''It was great to coach those seniors and have them win the sectional championship,'' Nugent said.
GATES CHILI (80)
DeJohnson 0 0 0, Lacey 0 0 0, AraRutledge 0 0 0, LThomas 5 1 11, Heller 1 0 2, Oechsle 0 0 0, Bayne-Walker 4 5 13, Dillard 6 3 15, SThomas 4 2 10, DiJohnson 12 1 29, Pittman 0 0 0, Totals 32 12 80.
Pollino 0 0 0, Campion 4 7 15, Butts 3 0 9, Nugent 0 0 0, Green 5 4 14, Davis 1 0 2, Pannes 0 0 0, Velazquez 0 0 0, Williams 0 0 0, Tapia 6 0 13, Coleman 3 0 6, Totals 22 11 59.
3-point goals: DiJohnson 4, Butts 3, Tapia.
Gates Chili24 17 24 15 - 80
Jamestown19 12 14 14 - 59