Playing the Pine Valley girls basketball team can be very humbling, unless you handle it like Jamestown.
The Red Raiders lost to the Lady Panthers in the second game of the season but have been on a tear ever since, winning their next 18.
Jamestown (19-1) is among the favorites to win its class as the 31st annual Section VI Tournament tips off tonight.
"When we lost to Pine Valley, the girls were pretty much in shock," said second-year coach Ken Ricker. "Pine Valley deserved to win, but you could tell by the next game that the girls weren't going to have that happen again."
Jamestown's success this year hasn't surprised anyone close to the program. Last summer, the team played 75 games as a member of the Jamestown YMCA Shooting Stars, an AAU team, run mostly by junior varsity coach Bill Canfield. The girls play other sports for their school, but Ricker said if there's an out-of-town basketball tournament or camp to attend, "They get in the car and go."
The Red Raiders won ECIC I with a 14-0 mark. They've been beating teams by an average score of 69-37.
Jamestown starts five underclassmen. Sophomore Nikki Frederickson may be a guard, but she scores most of her points in the paint. Junior Diana Depane broke the school record for three-pointers in a game this year with seven. Erinne Cunningham is a "seasoned freshman," according to Ricker. Juniors Ashley Dupler (6-foot-1) and Joanne Olson (taken seven charges) own the post.
Of the 87 schools in Section VI, 78 are participating in the open sectional. Seneca, Riverside, Grover Cleveland, Lafayette, South Park, Buffalo Arts, Burgard, da Vinci and Hinsdale will miss the competition. Here's a look at the other classes.
>Class AA (12 teams)
Teams to watch: No. 1 seed Jamestown is favored to take its first sectional title since 1983-1984. No. 2 Lancaster overachieved this season but couldn't stay with the Red Raiders in either league game. . . . No. 3 Kenmore West got off to a 9-0 start but went 4-5 the rest of the way. . . . Touted Orchard Park has had a quiet year so far. . . . Fast fact: The Niagara Frontier League has won this overall title in seven of the last eight years. . . . Upset special: Lockport over Jamestown if they meet in the quarters.
Players to watch: Jamestown's Frederickson averages 18 points per game and is 18 shy from moving into fifth all time in her school in scoring. . . . The Rickan sisters, freshman Jenna (top scorer) and sophomore Jordan (top defender), are talented players for Kenmore West. "They are two kids that can certainly impact a game," said coach Mike Licata. "Sometimes they play young, and sometimes they don't." . . . At 16-4, Lancaster is one win from tying the school record for wins in a season. The Redskins have a pair of talented juniors with Barb Kiliszek and Brittany Heist. . . . Don't count out No. 4 Niagara Falls with Emily Thompson in the post and 1,000-point scorer Destiny Harrison.
>Class A-1 (11 teams)
Teams to watch: This class features last year's Class AA champion (Hamburg) and Class A champion (Grand Island). . . . Williamsville East grabbed the No. 1 seed when Lockport last week surprised Kenmore East, which won
the always-tough Niagara Frontier League. . . . No. 3 Bennett brings a 15-1 mark into the playoffs with its only loss coming to City Honors.
Players to watch: Junior Courtney Donovan of Grand Island has elevated her game since last year. She runs the floor, has added a medium-range jumper and still hits the boards. Teammate Ashleigh Frieday is deadly from the outside. . . Senior Shannon Nolan and junior Kacie Mills have played a big role in Kenmore East's 15 wins while freshman Joelle Pollak has contributed several valuable minutes. . . . Kaitlin Roseti has led Williamsville East in scoring,9p,6p all season and Alanna DeVaughn solidifies the guard spot. . . . Liz Schappert and Katie Medina give Hamburg big-game experience. . . . Bennett is a very athletic team led by 1,000-point scorer Sharea Alsqqaf (inset). . . . Alexis Gray of West Seneca East scored 44 points against Pioneer. "She is the real deal," said Pioneer coach Max Payne.
>Class A-2 (12 teams)
Teams to watch: No. 1 Pioneer looks to bring home the patches in this class. The Panthers have wins over East Aurora, Williamsville East and Hamburg this season. . . . No. 2 Springville and No. 3 Depew join the race, having tied for the ECIC III title. . . . Olean has already beaten the top two seeds in this class, but is still unpredictable. It had won five in a row before losing to Lockport on Sunday. "We've been playing to win when we're in tight situations," said coach Martha Altmire.
Players to watch: Pioneer sophomore Joelle Connolly (21.6 points, 16 rebounds per game) is on crutches with a high ankle sprain, and the earliest she would be available is Saturday. In the meantime, sophomores Erin Asquith (5-11) and Katie Bliss (6-0) will have to assume more of a role in the middle. . . . Jessica Domes of Springville had six three-pointers in an overtime win over Starpoint. . . . Brandy Wangelin is a very sound player for Olean.
>Class B-1 (10 teams)
Teams to watch: ECIC IV champion East Aurora should bring it home for first-year coach Chris Koselny. The Blue Devils upgraded their schedule this year to include Pioneer, Springville, Iroquois and a home-and-away with Immaculata. . . . Fredonia has reached the sectional final four years in a row, winning it twice. The Falcons ended the regular season with back-to-back wins over Springville and Immaculata. . . . Alden went 11-9 after a 1-5 start.
Players to watch: Sarah Soroka of East Aurora will be presented with a game ball prior to the start of Thursday's quarterfinal to commemorate surpassing 1,000 points in the regular-season finale. Soroka averages 19 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore Jessie Tarantino hands out five assists. . . . Fredonia post players Molly Krauza and Alanna Klose both average 13 points. . . . Super-scorer Angel Clark of Lackawanna can take over a game. . . . Sisters Jordan and Carli Rutkowski will given Alden a chance. . . . Junior Margo Weber for No. 2 Newfane is a four-year starter averaging 12.2 points.
>Class B-2 (10 teams)
Teams to watch: For the previous eight years, Olean had either won or shared the CCIAC I title. No. 2 Allegany-Limestone snapped that streak this year. The Gators had won back-to-back Class C titles before moving to B-2. Among their goals each game is holding opponents to 40 points. . . . No. 2 City Honors is healthy and looks for a big postseason from Cierra Young. . . . No. 4 Southwestern is the defending Class B champion. . . . No. 3 seed Holland could do some damage with a solid core of three seniors. Its only league losses in ECIC IV were to East Aurora.
Players to watch: Senior Brittany Martin, a starter since eighth grade, has 1,615 career points for Allegany-Limestone. Senior Lacey Grove "is as good an outside shooter as I've ever coached," said coach Frank Martin. "She does a little bit of everything." . . . Southwestern has a very balanced team with Katie Landy and Jen Thorpe underneath and Sarah Beck running the offense. . . . Alexis Carlson of Falconer has to be defended beyond the three-point line.
>Class C (15 teams)
Teams to watch: Pine Valley, a fourth seed, is still a feared opponent despite moving up a class and losing in the regular season to Olean, Allegany-Limestone and Sherman. Having won three straight New York State titles in Class D, the Lady Panthers know how to win the big games. . . . Look for No. 3 Portville to reach the final for the second straight year. The Panthers and unknown Franklinville split this year. . . . No. 1 Cassadaga Valley won CCIAC II (14-0). . . . There's no quit in 0-12 Emerson and coach Jim McCarthy as they head down to Portville tonight.
Players to watch: Portville's 6-3 center, Sarah Houseknecht, averages a double-double a game. She signed early with Division II Southern Connecticut. . . . Cassadaga Valley will go as far as Kari Barmore takes them. . . . Brianne Colburn leads Pine Valley's suffocating full-court press.
>Class D (8 teams)
Teams to watch: This class appears to be a two-team race between No. 1 seed Sherman and No. 3 Clymer. Sherman won both meetings during in the regular season, but the wins were by seven points or fewer. Sherman split with Pine Valley (the loss Dec. 22 was its last) to earn a share of the CCIAC III title, its first crown since its state final four team of 2000-01.
Players to watch: Sherman has an impressive 16-3 record despite a lineup with three freshmen (Beth Gribble, Michelle Persons, Rachel Ottaway). The starting seniors are Chelsea Kent and cross country standout Michelle Damcott. . . . Clymer's Karlie Teculver can play inside or out and is a three-point threat. She had 18 in the second game against Sherman.