Amherst caps off Cinderella run with A1 title, Lew Port handles Depew to win A2 crown

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Lewiston Porter in Class A2 and Amherst in Class A1 won Section VI girls basketball titles Sunday at Buffalo State.

The two teams will now meet in the Class A crossover game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Buffalo State, with the winner advancing to the Far West Regionals.

Amherst uses second half run to shock Pioneer

The slipper still fits for the Amherst girls basketball team.

The Tigers, who came into the postseason as the No. 9 seed in Class A1, capped off their Cinderella run with a 61-47 win over Pioneer to claim the sectional title.

While Amherst (11-12) came in as the underdog, its hustle and tenacity made it not appear that way.

“You can’t teach height, but you can teach heart,” first-year Amherst coach Grace Licata said. “They have played with heart since the very first game that we had.”

Despite being significantly undersized and inexperienced compared to the Panthers (18-3), the Tigers often used their speed to get into the paint and either finish through contact or kick the ball out for an open look. On the other end, smaller defenders pestered Pioneer’s bigs and got to rebounds and loose balls consistently.

After trailing by three at halftime, Pioneer jumped out to a 39-32 lead midway through the third quarter. However, Amherst answered in a big way, embarking on an 18-0 run spanning much of the third and fourth quarters that was capped off by Taryn Ashley free throws. By the end of the run, the Tigers had a 50-39 lead, an advantage they did not relinquish the rest of the way.

“I think we’re used to back-and-forth battles,” Licata said. “Basketball is a game of momentums, it’s a game of waves. Sometimes it goes our way, sometimes things don’t go our way. … That doesn’t phase them, which is cool because typically at a high school level it does. But they handle adversity very impressively.”

Ashley, a freshman who led all scorers with 19 points, was one part of an underclassmen trio that included eighth grader Lucy Giordano and sophomore Ada Radomski which shined all game for the Tigers.

In particular, a 3-point play from Radomski gave Amherst its first lead of the second half, 42-39, and a 3-pointer from Giordano wound up being the dagger with two minutes left to play. Radomski finished with 17 points, while Giordano chipped in 11.

“I’ve been around a lot of basketball in my life, but [Ashley, Radomski and Giordano] are the three most talented basketball players I think I’ve ever been around,” Licata said. “The way that they play together, the way that they’re so unselfish and the way that they knock down shots at such a young age is so cool.”

“We trust each other a lot,” Ashley said of her team’s success despite their youth. “We work as a team, we work as a family.”

With just one senior on its roster, 57 of Amherst’s 61 points came from underclassmen. While the Tigers’ youth and smaller stature may be their most notable facets, it’s clear that has not slowed them down.

“I think the underdog story is out the window,” Licata said. “We have talent. We have really good basketball players on this team who really want to win. I know they’re not going to give up without a fight.”

Buzzer beater lifts Starpoint girls basketball to first sectional title in 29 years

Lancers use ‘relentless pressure’ to win Class A2 title

Lewiston Porter coach Brian Hall described his team’s motto as “relentless pressure,” and the Lancers’ speed and tenacity played a big role in winning a championship Sunday.

The Lancers used a big second quarter to help lift them to a 62-56 win over Depew to claim the Class A2 crown. The victory marked their second sectional championship in three years.

Lewiston Porter girls basketball team after winning the Class A2 title. Photo: Adam Gorski / News 4

After a tight first quarter that saw the Lancers ahead 15-12 at its conclusion, Lew Port (20-3) opened up their advantage in the second, winning the frame 19-9 to take a 13-point lead into the half. It was Lew Port’s quickness in transition and intensity on defense that helped turn the game in its favor.

“We’re a great team in transition, we love to run,” said Hall, who is in his first season as Lancers coach. “Our whole key, we felt, was we were the more athletic team, so we felt we could beat them down the court. … We wanted to make it a full court game, and that’s what it was.”

Often leading Lew Port’s fastbreaks was guard Emily Mountain, who stretched the floor with her speed and passing on multiple occasions. Mountain, a senior, led her side with 15 points while Aliza Whitehead chipped in 13.

“I think we just beat them in transition, that’s where we killed them,” Mountain said.

Lew Port led by as many as 19 points in the second half, and while Depew (15-8) made runs in the third and fourth quarters, the closest they could get was within six when the final buzzer sounded. Mia Vannelli finished with a game-high 27 points for the Wildcats in her final high school game.

The Lew Port-Depew matchup has become a bit of a regular occurrence this time of year, as Sunday marked the third year in a row the two teams squared off for a sectional title. After the Wildcats took home the win last year, it was the Lancers who got their revenge in the rivalry.

“I love it, I love rivalries, I’m a big competition girl,” Mountain said. “Mia [Vannelli] is a great player, I love playing against great players. It pushes me, it makes me better.”

Latest Local News

Woman recounts almost being taken from her driveway

46th Shamrock Run sets stage for event security in Buffalo

2 stabbed in incident on Cleveland Avenue in Niagara Falls

1 person stabbed during “dispute” in Buffalo

Mississippi Mudds in Tonawanda opens for its 38th year

Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *