Tonawanda News — It took Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball coach Dan McDermott three hours to read and respond to all the messages that were waiting for him on his cell phone after his Lady Hawks put the finishing touches on one of the greatest seasons in Western New York girls basketball history last Sunday afternoon, throttling previously unbeaten Martin Luther King, 76-47, to win the New York State Class A Federation championship.
It's only the sixth Federation title in WNY girls hoops history and the first since Holy Angels' Class B Fed title in 1997.
The Lady Hawks moved up to Class A this season after competing in B the past two years, a move O'Hara athletic director Angelo Sciandra wasn't necessarily thrilled about at first. But he said, no matter the obstacles before it, this team was destined for a historic season.
"Nothing has ever been done like this before. I mean, we've had championship teams — the football team had a nice run and teams that have won championships before — but to have a team win a Federation basketball championship in Class A is just enormous," Sciandra said.
The game itself was a laugher. The Lady Hawks dominated and used their tenacious defense and running game to suffocate MLK in the second half after a back and forth contest in the opening 16 minutes.
Senior standout Jontay Walton scored a game-high 20 points to lead another balanced attack for O'Hara. Keyonte Edwards was named the tournament's MVP with 16 points and 16 rebounds against MLK, while Kelsey McCarthy netted 15 and freshman Anndea Zeigler scored 14.
"We could sense that the blueprint that we had all season was starting to take effect against Marin Luther King in the second quarter," McDermott said. "We got it up to eight points at halftime and we could sense that they were starting to show some signs of fatigue. We talked at length at halftime about how important the first three minutes of the third quarter were and we came out strong in the second half and got it up to an 11-point lead. … Then we finished strong in the fourth."