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Trojans Capture 16th Sectional Title

Members of the Southwestern Trojans holds up their Section VI Class B1 championship plaque after beating East Aurora 52-27 in the title game Sunday afternoon at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. P-J photo by Christian Storms

BUFFALO — In 2022, the Southwestern girls basketball team lost the Section VI Class B2 final against Eden, disrupting a run of four consecutive sectional titles.

After reclaiming the Class B2 title last year with a win over Eden, on Sunday in the Section VI Class B1 final, the Trojans had a chance to string together consecutive championships again.

The top-seeded Trojans made Sunday afternoon’s game against No. 2 East Aurora look easy, winning the program’s 16th sectional title by a score of 52-27 at Buffalo State College.

“I’m super excited. This team has worked so hard, we deserve everything we’re getting right now,” Southwestern senior Reece Beaver stated. “I’m hoping we can build off this win going to the crossover on Wednesday.”

However, just winning sectional titles is not the goal of the Trojans as they have been on a mission to get over the crossover-game hump and into the Far West Regionals.

Southwestern’s Maddie McIntyre muscles a rebound from East Aurora’s Alyssa Kingston during Sunday’s Section VI Class B1 final at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. P-J photo by Christian Storms

“I have won section championships before,” Beaver said. “I lost one year, but other than that we have always won the section championship. I’ve never won a crossover, it’s always something I want to do. It’s been a goal of mine to go to regionals forever. I’m really hoping this is the year.”

If Southwestern wants to go on the best run in program history, it will have to go through a familiar opponent — Class B2 champion Portville — in a rubber match to determine which Section VI team will be the representative in the regional round.

“It means so much,” Beaver said about being able to continue the success of girls sports at Southwestern this season with the soccer team reaching Far West Regionals and volleyball team making states. “I’m so proud of my school and I’m so proud of all the girls. We’re doing amazing things and I think it would be so special to have the basketball team be a part of possibly a state run.”

In order to do that, Southwestern can’t be looking ahead, needing to take care of business in every game. That’s exactly what the Trojans did en route to the Class B1 title.

While the Southwestern offense was slow out the gate in the finals, its defense did not miss a single beat, frustrating East Aurora just like it did every opponent in the tournament.

Southwestern's Reece Beaver drives the basket against East Aurora during the Section VI Class B1 final at Buffalo State College. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

“This year we’re really focusing on being able to adjust on the run and sometimes switch defenses up instead of calling that timeout,” Southwestern head coach Kay Sirianni said. “That’s hard to adjust to offensively, so that’s really kind of helped us and our girls have practiced it since day one. We had a tough nonleague schedule and that really helped us kind of perfect that kind of defensive transitioning.”

Snagging the most steals for the Trojans was Reece Beaver with four, while both Bella Sirianni and Maddie McIntyre swiped three. On top of the direct turnovers, Southwestern pressure resulted in numerous poor shots and bad passes.

There was no doubt Southwestern frustrated the East Aurora offense, but the Trojans had offensive woes of their own. In the first quarter, Southwestern only had field goals from Reece Beaver and Ellie Pearson, then in the second quarter Beaver scored 8 of 10 Southwestern points and Lauren Cotter provided the missing 2.

“We always know when we get this far we’re going to face some competition,” Sirianni said about the offense. “That first quarter was a little bit shaky for us. It’s a tough place to play sometimes with the three 3-point lines, so the girls needed to adjust. It took us a little bit to adjust to the size of the court, then once we did we played pretty well.”

Southwestern led 23-13 at halftime, but luckily for the Trojans, Reece Beaver was on their side.

Pictured from left to right, Southwestern captains Lauren Cotter, Reece Beaver and Bella Sirianni pose with head coach Kay Sirianni and the Section VI Class B1 championship plaque after defeating East Aurora 52-27 on Sunday at Buffalo State College. P-J photo by Christian Storms

In her final season, the senior shined on both ends of the floor, leading Southwestern in steals, posting a game-high in points with 24, a team-high five assists and six rebounds.

“I just play however the defense guards me,” Reece Beaver said. “I was getting some open 3s in the first half, ‘Mac’ was setting some really good screens for me that was opening it up. Then in the second half I could get some backdoor cuts and finish around the rim.”

Southwestern picked it up in the second half with Sirianni, McIntyre and Braya Beaver joining the scoresheet. But as the game went on, East Aurora’s offensive continued to struggle, scoring just 4 points in the third quarter.

Two of Southwestern’s senior captains Maddie McIntyre and Lauren Cotter were formidable forces under the basket and their success will be key going forward in the playoffs. McIntyre hauled in seven rebounds, blocked two shots and dealt out three assists, while Cotter collected seven boards and had two assists.

“The pressure is definitely great, because we have to win and people expect us to win,” Sirianni said about her leadership group. “I have girls who know how to win, they play to this level, they know what it takes to play at this level. The greatest challenge for me is to keep them excited and motivated to get to that next game. We don’t want our season to end. Reece really is motivated. The first thing she said on the bench was ‘look how this feels girls, we want this feeling again a couple more times.’ To have her and everybody look up to her, and then Lauren Cotter and Maddie McIntyre, my other two seniors, this is their third sectional title trip too.”

Cruising to the 52-27 victory, Southwestern’s opportunity to make the Far West Regionals will be against fellow member of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association, Portville. The Trojans first lost to the Panthers 67-62 in December, but flipped the script less than a month later with a 58-41 victory.

“The first time we played Portville we didn’t have a great game,” Beaver stated. “Going into the second time at home when we played them, we played amazing. We took away some stuff they were getting in the first time we played them. Hopefully we can build off what we learned that second time we played them and I think it’s going to be a good game.”

The Class B crossover matchup will take place Wednesday at Buffalo State College at 5 p.m.

EAST AURORA (27)

Jakubczak 2 0 4, Tresmond 0 0 0, Miller 0 0 0, Beiter 0 1 1, Legg 0 0 0, Cassidy 3 3 9, Flilipiak 0 0 0, Skalski 2 0 4, Kaminski 1 5 7, Kingston 1 0 2, Ferguson 0 0 0, Giallella 0 0 0, Kopf 0 0 0. Totals 9 9 27.

SOUTHWESTERN (52)

CBeaver 0 0 0, RBeaver 10 1 24, Cotter 3 0 6, BBeaver 2 0 5, Sirianni 2 1 5, Barone 0 0 0, McIntyre 3 1 7, Pearson 2 0 5, Genareo 0 0 0. Totals 22 3 52.

3-point goals–RBeaver 3, BBeaver, Pearson.

East Aurora 6 7 4 10 — 27

Southwestern 13 10 14 15 — 52

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