WNY Athletics

Randolph hangs on to down Pavilion

The 11-time Section VI Class C champion Randolph Lady Cardinals are moving on.

That was made possible after a close 42-40 defeat of Section V’s Pavilion Gophers on Saturday afternoon at Buffalo State University in the Far West Regionals.

“It’s so cool,” Randolph coach David Pihlblad said. “Both the boys and the girls have played basketball since they were little kids, and us coaches we’ve talked about that development. In third grade, they started playing together and they’ve dreamed about this, going to states with both programs because we had this great core.

“The girls just put in the work and it’s so cool for Randolph and this community. It’s just a really cool moment.”

After a first half in which Randolph outscored their counterparts 25-13, Pavilion began to mount a comeback. Scoring just four points in the third quarter, the Lady Cardinals yielded 13 points to the Gophers and some began to wonder if the momentum had shifted towards Pavilion for good.

Not so. Pihlblad had a talk with his embattled squad at the end of the third stanza to settle them down.

“We couldn’t score,” Pihlblad said. “We were getting good looks and they just weren’t falling through. We just kept telling the girls it’s going to fall. Something’s going to go through eventually and keep shooting with confidence.”

The two rosters duked it out in the fourth quarter with each team exchanging scores until a timeout was called with 20 seconds to go and both outfits tied at 40 apiece. After some deft ball movement, a two-pointer from senior Katelyn Storer was made with 12.4 seconds left that eventually clinched the victory for Pihlblad’s bunch.

“That was a great pass and a great finish,” Pihlblad said. “It was just a huge moment and awesome for Katelyn, she doesn’t get a ton of credit ever. She made a huge play there to win the game.”

The Lady Cardinals will advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C state semifinal for the first time since 2012, where they’ll also join the Boys’ team in the state semifinals.

“The girls watched the boys’ game on the bus ride up here, and as soon as they won the girls were freaking out and it was like, ‘We’ve got to win though,’” Pihlblad said. “It was more motivation to finish the job and get the whole town of Randolph to go to Albany next week.”

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