With 59 seconds to go in the third quarter, the Dunkirk Marauders found themselves trailing 60-40 to Southwestern, and nine minutes of game time away from their season ending.
What happened next, you had to see to believe.
The Class B1 champion Marauders closed the Section VI Class B crossover game on a 35-2 run, defeating Class B2 champion Southwestern 75-62 on Wednesday at Buffalo State.
“We started creating small goals … let’s get it to eight, let’s get it to six but no one says lets get a thirty five to two run,” Dunkirk coach Ken Ricker said. “You’re in the championship game, on a court you’ve been on twice ever in your life, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
After Southwestern held a 39-33 halftime lead, a 21-7 Trojan run to open the third quarter had them dominantly in front, and it appeared things were all but over.
Kymi Nance tallied a 3-point play in the quarter’s final minute, and followed that up with a transition bucket to cut the Dunkirk deficit down just 12 heading into the final frame, 60-48.
And Nance wasn’t done there.
She went on to tally 14 of her game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 3:21 left to play that would put the Marauders in front for good.
“Down twenty, you don’t think you’re going to a win a game like that, you think it’s over – but we’re not that kind of team,” Nance said. “In that fourth quarter, you have a full eight minutes, and considering we were down twenty, nothing is impossible. You knock down the deficit down to six shots, two, and so on. Before you know it, you’re up and you’re ahead.”
Even after Dunkirk managed to make things a two possession game in the final minutes, they still had to knock some free throws down to clinch it. After a couple misses, the door stayed open for the Trojans, but the Marauder defense slammed it shut.
“When we missed a few free throws, I was still like hey, we have to make at least one or two of these,” Ricker said. “Maybe a minute to go we said, okay, we can look around and take in the excitement.”
Southwestern was led by Gianna Hoose, who finished with 18 points.
Dunkirk moves on to the Far West Regionals, where they’re scheduled to play Section V’s Dansville at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Rush-Henrietta High School.
Will South takes early lead and doesn’t look back
There was excitement in the air at Buffalo State for the Section VI Class A crossover game, as UConn Women’s Basketball coach and 11-time national champion Geno Auriemma was on hand for the bout between Hamburg and Williamsville South.
Considering he was there to see South star and UConn commit Amari DeBerry, he had to have been content with the result.
The Billies took an early lead and fended off the Bulldogs from there, advancing to the Far West Regionals with a 64-51 win.
After falling to Lake Shore on the same stage last year, ending their season, South came in knowing redemption was within their grasp.
“We knew if we just concentrated on what we needed to do and focused on the little things, that we could come out and execute,” Will South coach Kristen Dolan said. “Because of last year, I think some of the girls might have had that on their mind … These seniors, and Amari and Gretchen [Dolan], it means a lot to them because they’ve been here before and they know how every possession counts.”
The Billies swiftly jumped out to a lead in the early minutes, and led 22-14 after the first quarter that was capped off by South’s Hannah Dolan (17 points) banking in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The rest of the game, the Billies’ lead fluctuated from as large as 13 points, to as small as six points in the second quarter – but that was as close as Hamburg would come.
Even when DeBerry picked up her fourth foul just under two minutes into the second half and was forced to sit for nearly seven minutes, the Billies didn’t look shaken. Strong defense and the ability to stay consistent from the field helped seal their victory down the stretch.
“Coach Dolan really makes sure that we know that we all have our roles to play,” said DeBerry, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “Me being out in the third quarter, that’s kind of a bummer, but everyone kept up the score. Everyone did what they had to do to keep us in the game.”
And when it came to playing in front of her future legendary coach, DeBerry had no idea until it was nearly tip-off.
“I didn’t know [Auriemma] was here until we were sitting down for our call-up for intros,” she said. “It’s always nice to have them come out and support.”
Senior Maddy Harrison led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
The Billies will be back in action on Saturday for Far West Regionals action, where they’ll take on Pittsford-Mendon from Section V at 7 p.m. at Rush-Henrietta High School.
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