BY DAVE RICCI firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — On title down, another one is in reach.
The No. 3 seed Tonawanda Lady Warriors made history when they dismantled No. 4 Bennett, 62-31, to win the Section VI Class B-1 title at Buffalo State College on March 2.
The victory marked the first-ever sectional title in the history of Lady Warriors basketball program.
“You don’t really understand it until the last tenth of a second buzzes,” senior tri-captain Alanna Herne said with a smile. “It’s unbelievable, really. I don’t know any other way to explain it.”
“It’s unbelievable,” added fellow senior captain Savanna Baughman. “We worked our butts off everyday in practice. We all hustle and we worked hard to get where we are. So now that we made it and we actually are champions, it feels great.”
Tonawanda now has its sights set on the next step as they face B-2 champs Wilson tonight at Buffalo State College, beginning at 5 p.m., for the overall Class B championship.
Wilson is led by tri-captains Emily Lasher, Allie Bubar and 6-foot Dana Smith. All three are well-rounded, skilled players. Lasher and Smith are both deadly accurate from the outside. But even though the Warriors are in uncharted territory, Tonawanda coach Jay Hall is keeping his girls focused by telling them each step is just another game. No pressure.
“It’s just another game for us,” said senior captain Kaylyn Compeau. “We know they’re big. We know they’re fast. They definitely proved that to us, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. I have confidence in my team that we’re going to pull through as a team. We’ve gotten so far and I don’t think our season is going to end (Wednesday).”
As fate would have it, Tonawanda and Wilson played a scrimmage game during the Christmas break. Hall said it was nice to get a look at Wilson, though he cautioned that he and his team can’t take that as an advantage because Wilson got a look at them as well. So both teams are even.
“It won’t be a surprise,” said Hall. “We know they’re a good team. They have good players and are very well coached (by Brian Baker). We know we’re up for a good battle, we just have to play our game. We saw them play. We know what they do. We know what they’re players do so it’s definitely an advantage. But on the other side they know what we can do, too.”
Compeau said they absolutely respect Wilson, and every opponent, but they also know from within that when they play as one they are a special group.
Paige Hill and Savanna Baughman are expected to key in on Smith. Both were strong on Bennett’s 6-foot-1 Danyea Barclay. Baughman had 12 points and 15 boards in the B-1 title game.
Bennett jumped out to an early 5-0 lead as both teams struggled with big game jitters and playing on a bigger court. Once the Warriors acclimated themselves to their surroundings they were able to set the tone of the game.
Three-pointers from Compeau (19 points) and Herne (18 points/five assists/four steals) extended Tonawanda’s lead to 20-14 midway through the second and Tonawanda never looked back.
Coming off of back-to-back league titles the last two season the Warriors dealt with unforeseen circumstances that led to their playoff hopes being dashed in the quarterfinals both seasons. This season the resolve was more than just about a third ECIC IV title. The true mission was to prove the critics wrong and see it all the way through to a sectional title
“Most of all, with this group, and this is going to be my quote at the banquet,” said Hall. “When you say the word team you think ok a bunch of people out there together with the same color uniforms. But this is actually a family. It’s a team where everybody cares about everybody. They’d do anything for each other. This is really what a team should be.”