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Beehler Shines As Dunkirk Routs Fredonia, 96-62

Dunkirk’s Jessica Beehler (13) drives past Fredonia’s defense for a layup during a CCAA Division 1 West girls basketball game Monday at Dunkirk High School. Photo by Ron Szot

DUNKIRK — Monday’s rivalry showdown between Dunkirk and Fredonia was billed as a battle of two different styles, between the high-powered offense of Dunkirk and the tough defense of Fredonia.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, there was no doubt which style won.

The Marauders ran all over the Hillbillies for the second time in the past three meetings for a 96-62 victory in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 West action at Dunkirk High School.

Referencing his five senior starters after the game, Dunkirk coach Ken Ricker said, “This is nice for me to see. That’s why I’m here, to see them do something special that they’re going to remember.”

Dunkirk senior point guard Jessica Beehler and the rest of the Marauders did just that Monday. Beehler came into the game with three triple-doubles on the season. On Monday, she nearly did one better. Beehler fell just two rebounds shy of a quadruple-double as she racked up 13 points, 11 assists, 10 steals and eight rebounds to carry the Marauders to victory. Nadara Odell led the Marauders in scoring with 32 points while Kymi Nance had 29 points of her own.

“It just shows our growth as a team. Last year, in our second game (against Fredonia) they struggled a little bit without me,” said Beehler, who played in the first Dunkirk-Fredonia game last season, a Dunkirk blowout victory, but was unavailable in the second game, a narrow Dunkirk win on the final possession. “I’m glad that I can make them all better, when we’re all together.”

Dunkirk (8-1, 4-1) got ahead right off the bat, as Olivia Smith drilled a 3-pointer just seven seconds into the game. Beehler followed with a 3-pointer of her own to put Dunkirk ahead 6-0 just 39 seconds into the game. The Marauders extended their lead to double digits, 14-4, less than three minutes into the game. They added five more points within the next minute to lead 19-6 with 4:23 left in the first period, which forced Fredonia (6-4, 2-2) to call a timeout in hopes of slowing the Marauders.

“Their energy as one unit, they just feed off of that,” Fredonia coach Dan Vona said of the Marauders. “It’s like trying to stop a steam engine with one person.”

Dunkirk, which took a 25-12 lead into the second quarter, led the entire game after Smith’s bucket on the first possession.

“They were hitting their shots. Hats off to those girls. They’re good players,” Vona said. “I applaud them, I really do.”

Fredonia managed to cut into Dunkirk’s lead a bit in the second quarter, as Samantha Tabone drilled a 3-pointer to bring the score within single digits, 30-21. At three different points in the second quarter, Fredonia got the deficit down to just seven, but Dunkirk maintained the advantage the entire period. The Marauders closed the first half with seven of the final nine points, including Smith’s third 3-pointer of the half. Dunkirk led 43-31 at the break, though the Hillbillies outscored Dunkirk in the period.

In the third quarter, Fredonia’s Anna Buchanan did all she could to keep up with Dunkirk, with 10 of her team-high 22 points.

“These girls are unbelievable, in the sense that they take a loss as a positive outcome,” Vona said. “We’re only going to get better. The positives from these last two losses, I’ve never seen it before. It’s great.”

Dunkirk was just too much to handle. The Marauders posted 28 points in the third quarter to lead 71-51. Smith’s fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Dunkirk its first 20-point lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter. It tied the most points Fredonia had allowed in a game all season, with 11:24 left to play.

“We don’t stop. We just keep going,” Beehler said. “There’s no stopping us, because we never stop running.”

Through the first 90 seconds of the final period, the Marauders scored nine of the first 11 points of the quarter. Dunkirk led 80-53 at that point, and the lead extended to 31 points on a bucket by Nance before the halfway point of the period. The Marauders led by more than 25 points the rest of the way.

“We laugh because we’re still far away from where we can be,” Ricker said. “Kymi is special. Jessica is special. Nadara is special. … It’s just awesome for our seniors. They’ve taken their lumps and hopefully, it’s their turn.”

In addition to her game-high 32 points, Odell added nine rebounds and five steals. Nance added eight rebounds and seven steals to her 29 points while Amari Carter had seven points and seven rebounds. Smith’s 12 points all came on 3-pointers.

In addition to Buchanan’s 22 points to lead Fredonia, seniors Kazlin Beers and Nagely Vazquez both reached double digits. Beers had 13 points and Vazquez had 12.

For Beehler, one of Dunkirk’s five senior starters, Monday’s performance ranks as one of the best in her eyes among every sport she plays at the varsity level — basketball, softball, track and volleyball included.

“This is up there,” she said. “This is probably one of the top games I’ve played.”

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