Shay Ciezki scored 25 points Monday night to lead St. Mary’s of Lancaster (15-5) over Sacred Heart 77-62 in a Monsignor Martin regular season showdown. It was the second clash this season between two of the area’s top private schools. The Lady Lancers claimed victory in both.
The Sharks (13-6) led 24-18 after the first quarter where sharp shooting senior Siobhan Ryan collected nine of her season-high 33 points. The Lady Lancers battled back in the second thanks to their hustle and strong presence on the boards. Ava Achtyl and Lauren Nawojski fed off each other quite well at both ends of the floor. Achtyl, a sophomore, finished with 16 points and went 4-for-6 from the free throw line.
Ciezki finished strong but was a little shaky early, missing more than a handful of wide open shots in the first half. Her teammates picked her up; Achtyl, Parris Maroney and the Nawojski sisters (Lauren and Margaret) helped turn the game around. For the Lancers it was a total team effort Monday and when Ciezki found her groove, the Lancers started to pull away.
“Certainly proud of the way our whole team played today,” head coach Anthony Ottomano said after the win. “Specifically in the third quarter our ball movement was great and made it difficult to guard against. That helped Shay out.”
With the win St. Mary’s secured its spot in the Monsignor Martin AA Division Championship that will be played March 6th at Villa Maria College where they will take on Cardinal O’Hara.
The Lady Lancers have some pretty difficult games ahead that will help prepare them for O’Hara. They went out and scheduled Williamsville South and Section V’s Bishop Kearney at the end of the season and for good reason. “I needed to find games that will help simulate the speed of the game O’Hara plays,” Ottomano said. “Obviously we want that tough competition now because at this point of the season the pressure becomes that more difficult. I’ve said all season I like my team and I really like where we are right now. Our girls are playing with confidence. As a coach you need that in your players.”
The Lancers are a well-balanced team destined to give O’Hara a good game. Ciezki believes that this squad is ready for the challenge. “We’re always thinking about O’Hara, that’s the team everybody wants to beat,” Ciezki said. “They have a great work ethic and fight hard. They play great defense. It’s a huge challenge but we’ve been working really hard too. A lot of prep went into this game tonight and the same will go into playing O’Hara. We’re ready.”
Not to be outdone was Ryan. The Richmond Spiders commit was on fire from start to finish. She had 17 in the first half and hit a total of eight 3-pointers. “When you know, you know,” Ryan said after the game. She was a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc in the third quarter and kept the Sharks within a bucket heading into the 4th quarter. “They’re (SML) such a great team that when you get on a run like they did it’s difficult to climb back. Overall though I like our team chemistry. We all get along well off the court, it makes it easier to talk to each other during the game. We had a lead in the first half. We are a young team and we need to learn how to put teams away.”
Indeed, Sacred Heart is a young team. Two freshman started Monday in Mariah Huss and Mary Caterina. Each contributed in their own way with Huss finishing with 9 points, all three pointers.
“We played a tough team tonight, solid up and down and big on the boards,” Sharks head coach Carrie Owens said. “We will now compete in the Class A playoffs but our goal remains the same: win a State title regardless of what division it is. We want to finish strong. This is a young group and they are learning and growing. This team doesn’t fold, we battle hard.”
Owens referenced an earlier season game against a tough Hamburg squad where Ryan fouled out in the 3rd quarter but the team was able to hold on for the win.
SML is back in action when they host Mount St. Mary’s (7-12) while Sacred Heart will host Our Lady of Mercy (14-3) from Rochester, both on Friday.
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