By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Jontay Walton has ever been to New York City before. But, as luck would have it, most players on her team have been there. And they will be only too happy to serve as tour guides for her.
Walton drained 24 points to lead the way as top-seed Cardinal O'Hara beat No. 2 Nardin, 70-43 to claim the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association Class A playoff championship at Canisius College's Koessler Center, Saturday night. The Hawks now advance to next weekend's Catholic state tournament in New York and will play in the semifinals, Friday at 5 p.m. at St. John's Prep in Astoria, Queens.
“I'm very, very excited,” said Walton, who is the MMAA all-time leader scorer. “My first year going (to states). It's very exciting, especially to go to New York. It's going to be my first time going to New York and to do it with these ladies in very special.”
Just one more step along the way of a state title, shockingly enough this is the Lady Hawks first MMAA playoff title in over 40 years.
“This was a long time coming,” said Hawks coach Dan McDermott. “There's something in the program that says we won in 1971, but we're counting this as the first one. This was the main goal at the start of the season because without this there is no (states) next week. We accomplished what we needed to today and I couldn't be more proud of everybody. Coaches, players, everybody.”
Anne O'Brien got Nardin on the board early when she connected on a 3-pointer on the first shot of the game. But Nardin's lead would be short lived as the Hawks came storming back to take the 18-11 lead after the first. Early foul trouble kept O'Hara from finding its rhythm and gave Nardin the opportunity to go up 18-15 on a 3 by Nicole Frantz and 20-17 early in the second.
As the second quarter unfolded the Hawks realized they had to focus and not give Nardin the chance to climb back into the game.
That's when Walton took over.
Walton, who came to O'Hara after spending three years at Holy Angels, was 9 of 11 from the free throw line, hit a 3-pointer, five field goals and put the spark in the Hawks' offense that the Gators could not keep pace with.
“I think she's the missing piece,” Keyonte Edwards said of Walton. “She's so humble. She's never been to New York. This is going to be my fourth time to New York. She wanted this and I'm so happy we got to accomplish this our senior year.”
Edwards had 11 points, nine rebounds, and four steals. All-Catholic post game awards saw Walton and Edwards named Co-MVP's of the league.
“You expect big things from big players in big games,” said McDermott. “And that's exactly what they did.”
Senior Kelsey McCarthy (All-Catholic first team) had 12 rebounds, while freshman Cori Dickson added 14 points.Follow @tonanewssports on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.