The first meeting between rivals Williamsville South and Amherst resulted in an overtime thriller, a victory for the Billies, and a blown fourth quarter lead for the Tigers.
Amherst, after a shaky third, entered the fourth quarter once again leading Will South, and they were not about to let history repeat itself.
The Tigers pulled away late to secure a 60-46 victory over the Billies in ECIC II league play at Amherst High School.
It didn’t take long for Amherst to set the tone for the contest.
They dominated the glass early and forced multiple Will South turnovers that would lead to buckets. The Tigers found themselves up 14-10 after the first quarter.
“In a game like this it’s going to be back and forth, they’re going to throw their best and we’re going to throw our best,” said Amherst coach Mike Chantelle. “We really stepped up on defense and we rebounded well.”
Despite Amherst leading 29-21 at halftime and going up by as many as twelve early in the third quarter, Will South did not go away.
The Billies, who were missing senior starter Tatyjana Scalisi, came storming back on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to just two, 42-40, with around two minutes left in the third.
“We made a little run there, but we just lost our focus,” said Will South coach Kristen Dolan. “I think everybody is disappointed in their effort and not giving their best…the girls know they got to get back to work.”
Amari DeBerry led Will South and all scorers with 15 points.
In the fourth quarter, everything the Tigers had been showing off early in the game came into fruition, and they finally started to hit their outside looks. It wasn’t just one Tiger doing it all either.
Page Stelley opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, then Morgan Halt, who led Amherst with 14 points, canned a trey of her own. Not too long after, Leah Shutts nailed back-to-back elbow jumpers, all of which contributed to a 9-0 run that closed things out.
As Amherst’s shooting finally clicked, their defense stepped up once more and they held the Billies to just four points in the final quarter.
“It’s a big win for us, we need to keep looking towards Buff State, because that’s when it really counts,” said Halt. “Our defense was really strong tonight, we were talking more than we usually do. They’re a great team and they’re tough to defend.”
With their two regular season matchups out of the way and both teams having won once, there is only one way for these rivals to settle the score: the Class A sectional final at Buffalo State. The Tigers and Billies have met here in each of the past two years, and are intent on doing so again.
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