‘It Boiled Down To Heart’
Southwestern Rallies For Class B2 Title
BUFFALO — With about seven minutes remaining in Sunday afternoon’s Section VI Class B2 championship basketball game, the temperature inside the gymnasium at the Buffalo State Sports Arena felt decidedly cooler, almost as if someone had temporarily left a door propped open.
It mattered not a lick to Southwestern.
The Lady Trojans were just getting warmed up anyway.
After spending the first three quarters trying to find their shooting stroke and to shake the turnover bug, Southwestern, the No. 3 seed, made all the plays and hit critical free throws down the stretch to rally past defending champion and fourth-seeded Wilson, 45-42, and claim the Class B2 crown, its second in the last three seasons.
The win advances the Lady Trojans (21-2) into the Class B crossover game at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday against Fredonia back at Buffalo State. The Lady Hillbillies claimed the B1 title for the second straight season earlier yesterday by routing Dunkirk, 72-37.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Southwestern senior tri-captain Alanna Dibble, who finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. “I knew when we started working out over the summer that we’d do good things this season, but I didn’t think it would be this.”
For much of Sunday afternoon, it didn’t appear that Southwestern would return to West Ellicott with a sectional championship banner. Wilson led, 25-16, at halftime and 32-26 after three quarters. With eight minutes remaining, the Lady Trojans had connected on only 10 of 46 shots and were guilty of 18 turnovers.
“I told the kids at halftime, “Listen, guys, we’ve been punched in the mouth before,“‘ Southwestern coach Dave Turnbull said. “We made a couple adjustments, I think, that helped us. I put Erin (Radack) in the high post, because she was getting boxed-and-one most of the game. We were able to run our offense better with her in the high post.”
And the shots finally began to find their mark.
Sophomore Gianna Hoose got it started for the Lady Trojans with a putback while being fouled. She missed the ensuing free throw, but Dibble collected the rebound and laid the ball back in, cutting the Lakemen’s lead to 32-30 with 7:11 remaining.
Emily Kelly responded for Wilson with a baseline drive and layup, but Hoose scored again from the post, courtesy of a feed from senior tri-captain Izzy Bursch, cutting the deficit back to two points, 34-32, with 5:50 remaining. After Wilson’s Sarah Lewis hit a pair of free throws a half-minute later, Radack scored from the post on another assist from Bursch, and Dibble converted a putback that tied the game, 36-36 with 4:48 left.
As it turned out, it was Southwestern’s final field goal. In the final four minutes, Radack hit 5 of 6 free throws, while Dibble converted 4 of 6 charity tosses, including a pair with 17.2 seconds left that gave the Lady Trojans a 45-42 lead.
Wilson had a chance to tie the game after Dibble’s made free throws, but a long 3-pointer was off the mark, and Radack grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.
A sectional crown was secure.
“I think it really boiled down — again with this group of girls — to heart,” Turnbull said. “They showed a lot of heart in the second half. They battled, battled and battled, which I thought was critical.”
Added Radack, who finished with 9 points and three steals: “We play for each other, and it’s so easy when you have a great bunch of girls to pull it out at the end.”
Now it’s on to Fredonia, which the Lady Trojans defeated twice during the regular season, 59-36 and 55-42.
“I know Coach (Carol) Zirkle will have a lot of adjustments she’ll have made,” Turnbull said. “She’s a great coach and they’re a good team. I think it will be a heck of a battle Wednesday, for sure.”
NOTES: Freshman Sofia Genareo finished with 5 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. … Kelly and Skylar Munnikhuysen led Wilson with 12 points apiece and teammate Lewis added 10. … Dibble and Kelly were the recipients of the Intense Milk Character Athletes of the Game. … Southwestern’s last sectional title was in 2016 in Class B2. The Lady Trojans also claimed sectional crowns in 1976 and 1979 (in Class B), 2005 (in Class B1), and 1982, 1983 and 2006 (in Class B2). … In Fredonia’s win Sunday over Dunkirk, Katie Price led the way with 30 points and five rebounds; Grace Morrison added 16 points and six rebounds; A’Cetta Farriat had 9 points and 10 boards; and Kazlin Beers scored 8 points to go along with 8 rebounds.
Musall 2 0 4, SkMunnikhuysen 5 0 12, Lewis 10, Kelly 5 2 12, Frerichs 1 0 2, ShMunnikhuysen 1 0 2, Totals 18 4 42.
Hoose 3 1 7, Genareo 2 1 5, Mathews 0 0 0, Minarovich 2 0 4, Radack 2 5 9, Bursch 1 2 5, Dibble 5 5 15, Totals 15 14 45.
3-point goals — Bursch, SkMunnikhuysen 2.
Wilson 11 14 7 10 — 42
Southwestern 9 7 10 19 — 45