The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Cardinal O'Hara Hawks are one year removed from winning the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association Class B title, and now they're one game away from improving on that.
The Hawks qualified for the Class A playoffs this year by winning the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association playoffs. Friday night, they crushed the Bronx's Cardinal Spellman in the NYSCHSAA Class A semifinals, 72-55.
Jontay Walton scored 21 points, leaving her five away from 1,000 for her career, Kelsey McCarthy and Cori Dickson each chipped in 17 and Anndea Zeigler and Jailyn Dickson held Spellman's leading scorer to 7 points as the Hawks (24-3) became the first team from Western New York to win a Class A tournament game in three years.
O'Hara started slowly but got going when head coach Dan McDermott made the decision to switch his defense to stop Spellman's 6-foot-2 senior Maria Backman, who will head to the University of Michigan to play next season.
"The biggest part of the story was our defense," said head coach Dan McDermott. "We went box-and-one halfway through the first. Anndea Zeigler and Jailyn Dickson took turns guarding her and held her to 7. She came in averaging 22."
The Hawks outscored Spellman (21-3) 24-14 in the second as they opened up an 11-point halftime lead. O'Hara's offense would stagnate in the third, and Spellman would pull within as close as three. O'Hara led 47-41 heading into the fourth.
That's when Cori Dickson took over. The freshman scored 12 of her 16 points in the fourth, helping O'Hara cruise to the big win.
"It was a great win for our program," McDermott said. "It's a great win for the girls, the coaches, for everyone.
The Hawks will play Uniondale's Kellenberg Memorial High School at 5 p.m. today at Holy Trinity High School on Long Island. A recent state poll had O'Hara ranked fourth overall and Kellenberg slotted eighth.
"We're going to have our hands full," McDermott said.