They say it’s hard to beat a team three times in a row in high school basketball. League rivals get to know each other’s tendencies. Come playoff time, an underdog has a chip on its shoulder and becomes more dangerous.
“All week, I heard ‘Well, you beat ‘em twice’,” Jamestown girls coach Ken Ricker said after his team held off Frontier, 51-45, in the Section VI Class AA semifinals at Sweet Home. “We beat them by 2 and 4 or something.”
Actually, Jamestown had beaten Frontier by 3 and 5 points during ECIC play. But you get the point. The Falcons were sure to be a tough out.
Fortunately, Ricker has a tough, veteran squad. The toughest of all is 5-11 center Kylie O’Brien, a three-sport athlete who had 22 points and 20 rebounds and was a dominant force under the basket during the Red Raiders’ comeback.
Jamestown trailed, 31-25, at halftime. Marley Drake, who averaged 23 points a game and five made three-pointers during the season, had just three points at half. But Ricker’s squad came out with renewed urgency after the break.
O’Brien scored four quick points in the paint to start the third quarter. Senior point guard Mickia Freeney nailed a three, and junior Alyson Canfield scored five points to cap a 12-2 run that lifted Jamestown to a 37-33 advantage.
The Red Raiders (15-5) never trailed again. Drake hit a couple of mid-range shots to push the lead to six, then O’Brien kept the Falcons at bay with her stout work in the post, including forcing a held ball to retain possession late.
“Kylie O’Brien out rebounded the rest of our team, which she does on a regular basis,” Ricker said. “She plays basketball for her friends. She loves volleyball and likes softball. Basketball is a lot of running, and yet she’s just amazing. I knew all the stars were aligned for her.
“That’s what a senior does,” Ricker added. “Marley’s been carrying us all year. In the first half, she didn’t have a great game, but she had some big baskets in the second half. She had 31 the other day and carried us, got us one round further, and today, everybody had her back.”
Freeney and Canfield scored 11 points apiece for the winners. Drake had seven. Paris Izzo had 17 points and Mya Brown eight for No. 7 seed Frontier, which finished the season at 11-10.
Jamestown will meet top seed Lancaster, which beat them twice this year, in the AA title game at 7 p.m. at Buffalo State. The Red Raiders lost twice to Madison Francis and the Legends in league play — by 43 and 28 points. But you should beware a heavy underdog, especially the third time around.
“We’re playing with house money,” Ricker said.
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