WNY Athletics

Olmsted Downs Allegany-Limestone; Headed to First Ever Championship Game

Moments after the final buzzer, the Owls gathered in a circle for the traditional victory chant.
“Who are we?! We’re Olmsted! Who are we?! We’re Olmsted!”
But those five words are more than a typical chant. It’s an emphatic declaration that they have arrived. “We’re just really excited and we do the Olmsted cheer at the end just to let people know we’re Olmsted and we did this,” Gabrielle McDuffie said. “At the end of the day it’s all a team effort.”
McDuffie had 16 points as No.3 Olmsted beat No.2 Allegany-Limestone, 44-41, in the Section VI Class B2 semifinals played at KenmoreWest High School.
The win lifts the Owls into the program’s first-ever appearence in the finals where they will face No.4 Southwestern at Buffalo State College on Sunday afternoon. “It’s really exciting. I’m just really happy to have this opportunity,” McDuffie said.
The Owls took charge early as they raced to a 21-8 lead at the end of the first. The Gators slowly chipped away and cut the margin to 29-18 at the half. Freshman Gianna DeRose hit a couple of huge 3-pointers that sparked a comeback as the Gators eventually tied it 35-35.
When it seemed the Gators had all the momentum, McDuffie came through with a layup and Imani Burch brought the house down with a 3-pointer.
Never getting beyond the semifinals, in past seasons the Owls may have unraveled when the opponent made a comeback. But on this night they held strong and closed out the win.”We’re very determined and we know not to give up because the other team isn’t gonna give up,” McDuffie said. “So we have to play to the end.”
“I’ve asked a lot from them but they ask even more from themselves than I ever could,” Olmsted coach Mark Orlando said. “They expect it. They demand it out of themselves.”
For the Allegany-Limestone this marked the end of what was clearly it’s most emotional season ever.
It was their first season in the healing process after losing beloved longtime coach Frank Martin who passed away suddenly of a heart attack on March 21, 2018. Just one week after leading the girls to the NYSPHSAA Class C Final Four.
“It was tough. It was really tough. There’s a lot of tears in there right now because of that,” Gators coach Chad Lyter said outside the A-L locker room. “It was difficult, early in the season in particular.”
As his girls filed out of the locker room in tears it was abundantly clear that this wasn’t just the heartbreak of losing a basketball game or their season being over. They were remembering Coach Martin, the man who taught them so much and cared about them so deeply.
“We talked just a moment ago that you learned the hard way that winning and losing a basketball game isn’t nearly as important as a lot of other things,” Lyter said, as he fought to keep himself composed. “The loss isn’t as tough as the fact that the season is over. They learned the hard way. They had to grow up. A lot of little girls hard to grow up pretty quick last year. And it took a while to get over that. They played their hearts out tonight.”

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