UConn Commit DeBerry Leads Billies To Win Over Panama
Amari DeBerry came as advertised.
The 6-foot-5 Williamsville South junior, who has already verbally committed to the University of Connecticut, scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots as the Billies beat Panama, 69-54, in nonleague girls basketball Saturday evening at Jamestown Community College’s Physical Education Complex.
“She makes all of her teammates better. She communicates on defense. She’s everything that you want as a coach,” Panama head coach Jeff Angeletti said of DeBerry. ” … (UConn head coach) Geno Auriemma is all about character and you can see that … and her ability.”
Senior Hannah Dolan had 17 points, five assists and five steals while freshman Gretchen Dolan also had 17 points, including three 3-pointers, for Williamsville South (13-2, 10-0 ECIC D2), which lost in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A semifinals in 2018 before falling in the Section VI Class A crossover game last winter.
“We were so happy to be invited. Jeff and I have known each other, we’re good friends and we have a lot of respect for each other,” Williamsville South head coach Kristen Dolan said. “It was an honor … to be able to play Panama. For us to make the trip was excellent at this time of year because it’s great competition and they’re never going to give up.”
Senior Kylie Schnars led Panama (13-2, 8-0 CCAA D2 West) with 26 points to go along with nine rebounds while fellow senior Natalie Angeletti had 18 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Billies, ranked No. 2 in the state in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association Class A rankings, came out on fire and put the Panthers behind the 8-ball early.
Gretchen Dolan hit a pair of 3-pointers and DeBerry nailed another trey during an early 14-3 run, and the Dolan sisters each hit another triple before the quarter was up as Williamsville South led 32-14 after just eight minutes.
“(Gretchen’s) played with this group since she’s been in second grade. They’ve always included her … she was always right there,” Kristen Dolan said. “Now, she’s just one of them. She and Hannah are reading each other really well. It’s exciting when they are unselfish and they realize they have to find the open person and work together.”
As a team, the Billies shot 12 of 17 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from long range in the quarter.
“We’ve worked hard on our jump shots,” Kristen Dolan said, “and making sure we’re confident taking those open looks.”
The Williamsville South lead grew to as many as 22 at multiple points early in the second quarter, but an 8-0 Panama run late in the period made it 40-26. DeBerry then closed the first half with back-to-back buckets, including a step-back 3-pointer that made it 45-26 heading into halftime.
“It was kind of a shock treatment, to put it mildly,” Angeletti said. ” … They are so long and athletic. Their guards are big and they’re fast.”
The Billies scored 14 points off 10 first-half turnovers by the Panthers.
“They took advantage of everything,” Jeff Angeletti said. “It seemed like they capitalized on all of our mistakes, but a lot of our mistakes were created by their execution.”
After Williamsville South took the lead up to its biggest of the game at 23, Panama put together a 13-3 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Angeletti and another from Schnars that cut its deficit to 13, but the Panthers then turned the ball over on three straight possessions and the Billies stemmed the tide to take a 17-point lead into the final eight minutes.
“The end is near, they sense it,” Jeff Angeletti said of Natalie Angeletti and Schnars. ” … They are both captains and I said ‘Make it your game, let’s make it interesting.’ Our goal was to get it down to 10 … and we almost got there.”
Schnars made it a 15-point game early in the fourth quarter, but DeBerry hit Ava Urbaniak on back-to-back high-low plays to push the lead back up to 19.
“Amari … just wants to come out of these games with a ‘W’ so she’ll do whatever she has to do,” Kristen Dolan said. “She can really do it all. She’s a great passer and loves getting her teammates involved.”
The Panthers eventually got it down to 14 as Schnars made all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, but by that time it was too little too late.
“We wanted to see if we could claw back … especially against a team of that caliber,” Jeff Angeletti said. “Check ‘Yes’ on that. We weren’t going to win that game at the end, but we never gave up.”
NOTES: Freshman Mandy Brink had five assists and three steals for Panama, which shot 16 of 55 (29.1%) from the field, including 6 of 17 (35.3%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 19 times. … Urbaniak grabbed eight rebounds for Williamsville South, which shot 27 of 53 (50.9%) from the field, including 7 of 17 (41.2%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 15 times.
WILLIAMSVILLE SOUTH (69)
HDolan 7 1 17, Special 0 0 0, GDolan 7 0 17, Domin 0 0 0, Ramoni 2 0 4, Foster 0 0 0, Urbaniak 4 1 9, DeBerry 7 6 22. Totals 27 8 69.
Brink 2 1 6, Lyon 0 0 0, Odell 0 0 0, Angeletti 6 3 18, Bailey 1 0 2, Watson 0 0 0, Morton 0 0 0, Lisciandro 0 2 2, Schnars 7 10 26, Harvey 0 0 0. Totals 16 16 54.
3-point goals–HDolan 2, GDolan 3, DeBerry 2, Brink, Angeletti 3, Schnars 2.
Williamsville South 32 13 15 9 — 69
Panama 14 12 17 11 — 54