A year ago, the Williamsville South High School girls basketball team swept rival Amherst in the regular season only to lose to the Tigers when it mattered the most in the Class A Section VI championship game.
The Billies also won both regular season games this season against their Main Street rival and for most of the first three quarters on Wednesday at Buffalo State College, Amherst threatened to do it again.
In the fourth quarter, Williamsville South decided enough was enough. The Billies dominated the game’s final nine minutes and posted a 60-43 win over the Tigers in a game that was way more competitive than that final score indicates.
Coach really embedded into our head that this is our time,” star freshman Amare DeBerry said . There’s no reason to hold back, this is our game as long as we continue to work for our goal.”
South blew open a once close game with a 17-0 run that began late in the third quarter. Amherst went more than nine minutes without a point until a bucket with 21.4 seconds left when the game was long settled.
It was two pretty good teams on the floor,” Amherst coach Mike Chatelle said. “We kept with them for three quarters and then the fourth quarter came and things didn’t go our way.”
A year ago, things did go the Tigers way as Amherst knocked off the Billies 63-47 to reach the Far West Regionals. But Williamsville South played that game without standout point guard Hannah Dolan, who was out with an ankle injury.
She was back with a vengeance on Wednesday
“It was a lot of motivation coming into it, Dolan said. “Being able to come back to the team and be able to rally around if someone is struggling being able to bring us back here really meant a lot to everybody.”
Dolan made her presence felt early and often against the Tigers. She scored a game-best 28 points, including four 3-pointers that kept the Billies afloat in the first half. DeBerry added 22 points and caused problems on the defensive end, using her 6-foot-5 frame to frustrate Amherst.
“They’re good,” Chatelle said, looking down towards the Billies locker room. “That team has a talented big (DeBerry), a talented point guard (Dolan) and a talented shooter with Lauren (Lassiter) and their role players … you have to play a perfect game to beat them. I don’t see anyone else beating them.”
South improved to 17-5 and will play Section V champ Pittsford Mendon at 11 a.m. Saturday at Rush-Henrietta High School. The Vikings beat the Billies 69-46 in the season-opener for both teams.
“They’re a great team obviously,” DeBerry said. “We have to focus on us. We have to focus on every play like it’s the last play of the game.”
“Mendon is well-schooled,” Dolan added. “We have to make sure, no silly mistakes, limit turnovers. They have great shooters so we have to contain them too.
Emma Klein scored 11 to lead Amherst (17-7).
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