By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TONAWANDA — Joanna McCarthy has been dominating this season for the Tonawanda girls basketball team, and that trend continued in this year’s T-NT girls basketball game. She recorded her sixth consecutive double-double — 14 points and 13 rebounds — as the Lady Warriors handed North Tonawanda a 40-30 loss in the opening round of the Tonawanda Holiday Tournament at the George H. Miller Gym on Thursday night.
“There’s always room for improvement,” McCarthy said. “I think we’re all just happy that we got the win, but there’s always room to improve.”
Playing without starting point guard Alanna Herne, Tonawanda hung its ball-handling hopes on the combination of Kalyn Compeau and Haley Snyder (seven points/five steals) and the combo didn’t disappoint.
Both did a quality job sharing the load of carrying the ball up court and keeping the Jacks’ defense off balance by switching on and off at the point. But it was the combo of McCarthy and Savanna Baughman (10 points/seven rebounds/three steals) inside the paint that made the biggest impact, as they united to make it a long night for NT center Kali Marsh, who was held to five points.
Baughman played tough and was especially aggressive on the defensive side of the court, not backing down from the bigger, more experienced Marsh.
“We hustled, we played hard. It was our first test without Alanna,” said Lady Warriors coach Jay Hall. “I thought Kalyn and Haley did a real nice job, and Savanna definitely had a career game. She had 10 points and Marsh had five points in the first half and didn’t score at all in the second.”
Baughman also hit two key baskets early in the second to give the Warriors (5-1) some breathing room with an 18-10 lead. The Warriors were successful in their pre-game goals of trying to hold Marsh to under 10 and limit the Jacks from beyond the arc.
Tonawanda’s Ashley Kowalcyk was a terror on defense and hauled in nine rebounds on the night. The Lady Jacks showed flashes of the promise they have and, at times, looked as if they might swipe the game away from the host team.
Gretchen Ringler (eight points) hit a pair of 3’s in the first quarter to make the score 10-10, and added a bucket in the third to cut Tonawanda’s lead to 22-19. But that was as close as the Lady Jacks would come as the Warriors pulled away in the fourth.
Falling to 1-5 overall, the greater sting for NT wasn’t so much another loss, but the frustration of an effort that simply was nowhere near acceptable.
”One of the things we’ve been talking about all year long is we’re not so much concerned with what the score says. Yes, we pay attention to the score, we want to win. But this is probably the third or fourth game this year where the quality in which we play as individuals and as a group, was not indicative of who we are,” said NT coach Luke Vogel.
Vogel said there were too many possessions where all five girls on the floor just aren’t on the same page. Work ethic has been an issue for the Lady Jacks all season and it’s hampered the team from competing.
“We don’t have girls willing to work as hard as they can,” Vogel said. “We have possessions where we look like we can score against anybody and any defense and then we have possessions where the defense plays it a little differently and we freeze.”
The win lifts the Warriors into the title game against Amherst in a rematch of last year’s championship game tonight at 7 p.m. Amherst topped Buffalo-East, 53-15 in the other opening round game.
Falling to Amherst in overtime last year, the Warriors are focused on gaining a measure of revenge.
”A new game, a new year and we’re definitely looking for the win this time,” McCarthy said.
NT will play East in the third place game at 5 p.m. Tonawanda took the JV T-NT game, 36-15.