By Dave Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Buffalo State, here come the Lady Warriors.
Kalyn Compeau had 22 points and six steals as No. 3 Tonawanda scored a shocking come-from-behind win over No. 2 Buffalo Arts, 56-50, in the Section VI Class B-1 semifinals Wednesday night at Sweet Home High School.
The victory earned the Lady Warriors their first-ever trip to the sectional finals, where they’ll play No. 4 Bennett at 5 p.m. Sunday at Buffalo State.
“We’re so pumped,” said Alanna Herne. “Just how we all embraced each other. It’s awesome. I love ‘em. I love ‘em all!”
Tonawanda coach Jay Hall isn’t surprised one bit that this group of young ladies made history by going father than any other Lady Warrior team.
“A lot of these kids were the first to win a league championship, the first to win back-to-back championships,” he said. “It just carries over. They don’t want the season to end and they work their tails off every day.”
Trailing 28-16 with less than a minute to go in the first half, it looked as if the Warriors season was slipping away before their very eyes. But Herne and Paige Hill hit back-to-back shots to cut the score to 28-21 and slowly inch the momentum in Tonawanda’s favor.
While Herne’s 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go was huge, it’s what Herne did off the court that may have very well saved the Lady Warriors season.
After the coaching staff exited the locker room during halftime Herne stood up and in no uncertain terms told everyone to get their heads together and simply play better.
“We didn’t come this far to (roll) over when we’re just a few points behind,” said Herne. “We were only down by (six) at the half so we knew that we were going to pull together. We started hugging, we’re not giving up.”
Her teammates responded.
“Alanna just calmed down everyone and told us get our heads out of our butts,” Haley Slater said with a smile. “She just calmed us all down, told us to pick it up and we came out and did.”
Tonawanda brought a much more focused and determined effort in the second as it chipped away at the lead until Slater hit a game-changing 3-pointer that put Tonawanda up 37-36 and set the stage for the Warriors to gain and keep control of the game.
“My heart sank ‘cause I made it,” Slater said.
Slater (six rebounds) hit all 10 of her points in the second half. Herne, meanwhile, had 12 points and 11 assists, while Compeau was 8 of 11 from the field.
Led by Alexis Campbell (22 points), daughter of legendary Malik Campbell, the Cavaliers were a formidable opponent. They were quick, shot well, were very athletic and played with grit. Tonawanda missed far too many chances early on and Buffalo Arts made the Warriors pay. Summer Hemphill had six points during an 8-0 run in the first quarter that gave Buffalo Arts a lead they would hold until Slater’s three-pointer in the third quarter.
But Buffalo Arts just didn’t have the depth that the Warriors had. Eventually their starting five simply ran out of gas. Once again Hill and Savanna Baughman were key in helping Tonawanda win the battle of the boards. Hill had 12 rebounds while Baughman was an absolute beast in the paint, pulling down 15 rebounds.
“It was a great all-around team win,” said Hall.
Hayley Snyder gave the Warriors a burst of energy off the bench and, combined with the speed of Herne and Compeau, forced the majority of the Buffalo Arts turnovers.
The Warriors defeated Bennett earlier in the year in tournament action.