By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com, photos by STEVE HARRISON
HONEOYE FALLS — Monday night provided an opportunity for the No. 4 Lady Lions of Wellsville to witness how far they had come. One step away from making that giant leap forward to Rush-Henrietta, their opposition standing in the way of their ultimate goal was an opponent they hadn’t since December — Class B2’s top queens, the Lady Mustangs of Dansville.
With a meeting with the No. 3 Hornell Lady Red Raiders in the Class B2 Finals waiting on the other side, an early battle raged on between both squads across the first half. The Lady Lions would score some momentum coming out of the break behind a strong showing from Sara Reitz downtown, getting back to within reach of Dansville.
But as time went on, the pendulum began to shift drastically. The Lady Mustangs would find their groove.
Towards the tail end of the third quarter and into the last eight minute session, the top seeds exploded after both teams were deadlocked at 26, as they went on to score 14 of the next 16 minutes across that timespan to pull away towards a double-digit lead, one they would ultimately hang onto until the end to help towards eliminating Wellsville from title contention while locking up a spot themselves in what was a 51-38 win at Honeoye Falls-Lima.
“There were a lot of second chance opportunities that we gave up to them. We weren’t boxing out, and against a team like Dansville, we just can’t do that,” said Lady Lions coach Michelle Alvord. “(Aynsley) Belcher had 17 points for them, and eight of them came in the third quarter to help get them going. The girls played really hard despite it, and Sara had a great final game to end her career here in style.”
Across the first half, the Lady Lions (12-10) and Lady Mustangs engaged through thick and thin in close battle. One where Wellsville found a way to grab a lead by as much as five during the second quarter, with Reitz finding her groove early with the first of four three-pointers. Dansville would fight back however to tie the game at 15 to set up a back-and-forth pace down the stretch. The Lady Mustangs would end the half with the momentum in their favor, grabbing one final basket with five seconds left to take a two-point lead at the break.
The Lady Lions would attempt to shake it off in the third quarter behind Reitz’s guidance, as she picked up where she left off in the second quarter by nailing back-to-back triples from downtown to cut away at their deficit at first before deadlocking the game at 26 on the latter of the two shots. With the back-and-forth pace settling in once more, the Lady Mustangs would use it to their fullest of advantages.
In the back half of time in the session, the top seeds capitalized on a humongous run that they would carry into the last quarter of play, scoring 14 of the next 16 points to branch their lead out to as big as 14, where it would remain for the rest of the contest, as the Lady Mustangs sealed the victory behind free throws in the end to claim a spot in Friday night’s Finals.
Reitz, along with Makenna Dunbar, finished as Wellsville’s leading scorers with a team-high 12 points each, with Reitz recording four of the team’s six triples, while Dunbar had two more to add in herself to put towards 11 rebounds, completing a double-double. Averee Palmatier finished with 10 points to pair with 10 rebounds to finish her double-double. Natalie Adams grabbed six additional boards off the glass.
The season is over for the Lady Lions, as they wrap up their 2022-23 campaign with a record of 12-10 overall. The team will graduate just its two lone seniors at the end of the year in June, in Reitz and Emily Robbins.
“We showed a lot of growth throughout the season. I talked all year about it, and I wish we started to gel together a little earlier on, but I am really glad that we were able to get this far,” said Alvord. “We will miss our seniors, but I’m really excited about this group coming back and growing together even more. They might be disappointed now, but the potential to do even more big things will be coming. Unfortunately Emily wasn’t able to go for us again tonight, but she has had a really amazing career that really gave the girls that extra boost this year. She will go on and do bigger and better things.”
Wellsville 7 13 8 10 – 38
Dansville 9 13 13 16 – 51
WELLSVILLE: Lindsay Stuck 1 0-0 2, Sara Reitz 4 0-0 12, Averee Palmatier 3 4-7 10, Makenna Dunbar 5 0-0 12, Jaden Dunbar 1 0-0 2. Totals: 14 4-7 38.
DANSVILLE: Aynsley Belcher 8 1-6 17, Taylor Hamsher 1 2-4 5, Megan Tyler 3 2-4 8, Chelsie Tyler 3 4-7 11, Kali Meyer 1 0-0 2, Emma Allen 4 0-2 8. Totals: 20 9-23 51.
3-point goals: Wellsville 6 (Reitz 4, Dunbar 2), Dansville 2 (Hamsher, C. Tyler).
Total Fouls: Wellsville 16, Dansville 10. Fouled out: None.
STEVE HARRISON PHOTO GALLERY, more stories after photos from Lyndonville-Fillmore and Keshequa GV/Belfast
Class D1 Semifinals
No. 3 Lyndonville 43, No. 2 Fillmore 42 (OT)
LEROY — Perhaps the most thrilling contest of the night unfolded in LeRoy on Monday in the midst of a snow and freezing rain storm. The first of two Class D1 Semifinal battles was one that needed to see extra time to decide who would lay claim on a vacancy in the Finals at Letchworth, this weekend.
No. 2 Fillmore would battle back by as much as 10 in the second half, setting up shop for a back-and-forth finish down to the end of regulation where the final shot of the fourth quarter saw No. 3 Lyndonville tie the game up to force the extra session. In it, it was a matter of who wanted the game more.
The Lady Eagles would try to fight their way back into the mix with five of the quarter’s last six points, but ultimately the damage was done at the very beginning of it, as the Lady Tigers ignited a start that positioned them in the driver’s seat for good, squeezing out a 43-42 victory in overtime to eliminate Fillmore and capture a meeting with No. 1 Keshequa on Friday to decide all of Class D1’s marbles.
“I was so proud and impressed by the heart and fight that this team showed tonight,” Lady Eagles coach Tom Parks said. “On three separate occasions, we got knocked to the mat and they responded each time, and gave themselves a chance to win in the end. In overtime, they scored the first five points. Amelia (Rose) helped us battle back with a strong tenure at the line to get us within two. Hope (Russell) hit a big shot to make it a one point game, but we couldn’t quite finish it off at the last second.”
Both Lyndonville and Fillmore (16-6) weaved their way through a close first half battle that wound up seeing the Lady Tigers take a three-point lead into the break. The momentum would remain in their favor going into the second half, where they would create as large of a hole as 10 for the Lady Eagles. But the team in white and green showed a tremendous amount of resiliency to fight their way back, trailing by as two behind their scoreless run.
The jaunt would reach as much as 11 straight points for the Lady Eagles to give them the lead back, but only for a moment until the back-and-forth battle ensued once more to close out the frame, as Lyndonville forced overtime with a big shot inside to tie the game at 37.
In the extra session, the Lady Tigers hit all strides in the first portion of time, striking while the iron was hot on five consecutive points before Fillmore went on to score five of the last six points themselves in return to close it, including a crucial Hope Russell basket down low to close the gap to a single point in the final minute. But unfortunately, the late comeback effort by the No. 2 seeds just fell short of completion, as Lyndonville hung on by the skin of their teeth to finish off the victory.
Russell would pace all Fillmore scorers with a game-high 21 points. Amelia Rose chipped in with 11 points of her own, while Rachel Hatch had five.
“We got big time minutes from a lot of people tonight, and in key moments. Among them, Amelia came off the bench and stepped up huge for us,” Parks said. “She definitely played her best game of the year on the big stage when it mattered the most. Add basketball start next to Hope’s soccer accolades, because she really carried us tonight under some pretty bright lights. She’s been doing that all year, so for her to step up again tonight for us, that’s huge.”
The Lady Eagles have concluded an incredible season on the hardwood, finishing with a record of 16-6 overall. The team will graduate just a single senior at the end of the year, in Madi Geertman, who Parks says showed a tremendous amount of leadership as time went on in a season that saw his team continue to grow.
“We graduate Madi, who really started to show leadership and a pass-the-torch mentality towards the end of the season. She was a starter for us all year, and was a really important part of our team,” he said. “Coming into this season after graduating some big-time names, I’m not sure we believed or expected that we would have gotten to this point. We started off 0-2 and went 16-4 after that. This team grew up fast, and just past midseason, you could see that this group started to believe. I give them all the credit in the world for the work they put in to make believers out of everyone. This was a special season, and I think it will make us hungry for what’s ahead.”
Lyndonville 11 12 9 5 6 – 43
Fillmore 9 11 9 8 5 – 42
LYNDONVILLE: Addison Dillenbeck 5 2-4 13, Haley Shaffer 0 1-2 1, Shelby Boring 1 0-0 2, Isabella Groves 3 0-4 7, Lorelei Dillenbeck 3 0-0 7, Ashlee Stephens 5 3-3 13. Totals: 13 8-13 43.
FILLMORE: Hope Russell 8 1-1 21, Rachel Hatch 2 1-4 5, Amelia Rose 3 3-3 11, Kylee Ellsworth 1 0-0 2, Mattie McCumiskey 0 0-4 0, Preslee Miller 1 1-2 3. Totals: 15 6-14 42.
3-point goals: Lyndonville 4 (Groves 2, A. Dillenbeck, L. Dillenbeck), Fillmore 6 (H. Russell 4, Rose 2).
Total Fouls: Lyndonville 13, Fillmore 13. Fouled out: None.
No. 1 Keshequa 44, No. 4 Genesee Valley/Belfast 23
LEROY — When the Genesee Valley/Belfast ladies learned that No. 1 Keshequa was awaiting their arrival in the Class D1 Semifinal round in LeRoy on Monday, it was a chance for redemption after the two schools met in this past Autumn’s Finals on the soccer pitch in a battle that came straight down to the wire in sudden victory.
One that the Lady Indians swiped away at the very last second to eventually become State Final Four Finalists.
Now, there was a score to settle on the hardwood with a chance to advance into Friday night’s Finals at Letchworth riding on the line. Genesee Valley/Belfast would go on to give the Lady Indians an early battle through the first eight minutes of play, but when the time came to shift gears, the top seeds put it into maximum overdrive.
With a two-point advantage on the No. 4 seeds, Keshequa broke loose and away from their grasp to close out the half, scoring a massive second quarter run that would ultimately make all the difference going forward, as the Lady Indians never looked back again on their 44-23 victory to claim the final spot in this weekend’s Finals to end Genesee Valley/Belfast’s season.
“That is the best team we’ve seen all season long,” said GV/Belfast coach Jim Schneider. “All in all, this was a great season as D1 Champions in the County. We had a County co-MVP in Anna (Drozdowski) and All-Star in Mary (Hamer). They are 11 great girls that love each other. Yes we did get beat in the semifinals by a better team tonight and it hurts that our season is over, but these girls can and will hold their heads high for the work they’ve put in this year. I am super proud of them.”
Both Genesee Valley/Belfast (13-9) and Keshequa exchanged some back and forth blows through the opening sequences, which would give the Lady Indians a 10-8 lead to work with. In the second, the team in white and orange would maintain all the momentum they had carried into the frame, branching their lead out with an incredible 16-0 run to further distance themselves with a 26-8 lead with 1:40 left in the half.
Genesee Valley/Belfast would snap the scoreless drought after a long three from Madison McKenzie, which would be the team’s lone field goal in the second quarter, as Keshequa finished the half with a 22-3 jaunt in all to take a 32-11 lead at the break.
It was a buffer that the Lady Indians would maintain across the second half and down the finish line, as they remained one step ahead of Genesee Valley/Belfast to close out the night, claiming the final spot to meet No. 3 Lyndonville in Friday’s Class D1 Finals.
Leading the scoring was Mary Hamer, who finished with 14 game-high points. Harley Proctor added in six points, while McKenzie rounded off the scoring with her second quarter triple.
Genesee Valley/Belfast’s season is officially in the books, as their Allegany County Division I Championship winning campaign concludes with a record of 13-9 overall. The team will graduate three seniors at the end of the school year in June, in Proctor, Anna Drozdowski and Adison Grusendorf.
Genesee Valley/Belfast 8 3 5 7 – 23
Keshequa 10 22 8 4 – 44
GV/BELFAST: Abby Sullivan 0 0-2 0, Harley Proctor 3 0-0 6, Madison McKenzie 1 0-0 3, Mary Hamer 6 1-4 14. Totals: 10 1-6 23.
KESHEQUA: Braelyn Isaman 4 0-0 10, Ava Thayer 3 0-0 7, Ryley Benner 1 0-0 3, Anna Linde 2 0-0 4, Riley Nageldinger 2 0-0 5, Libby Benner 1 5-6 7, Julia Wilkins 2 3-5 8. Totals: 15 8-11 44.
3-point goals: GVB 2 (McKenzie, Hamer), Keshequa 6 (Isaman 2, Thayer, R. Benner, Nageldinger, Wilkins).
Total Fouls: GVB 12, Keshequa 12. Fouled out: None.