The bad news for women's basketball fans in Western New York is that the Western open team got blown out Friday afternoon.
The good news is that one of the players responsible is coming to Niagara University.
Niagara recruit Liz Flooks came off the bench to score all 10 of her points in a three-minute span to help Hudson Valley hand Western a resounding first loss at the Games, 68-50.
"When she was hitting those shots, I was like, 'I'm glad she's going to be on my team next year,' " said Sarah Wilson, a 6-foot-2 Niagara senior from St. Catharines, Ont., who had 14 points for Western. "It's very impressive for someone that young to come in against people who are playing in college. That shows a lot of poise on her part."
Western fell behind big early and continually fought to get the difference into single digits, as the score was 34-23 at halftime and 38-30 just 2:45 into the second half. That's when Hudson Valley went on a game-deciding, 20-0 run which was finished off by Flooks.
The 5-10 guard from nearby White Plains High scored 10 of Hudson Valley's 11 points in one stretch, starting by hitting a putback underneath and then finishing off a nice pass from Marist junior Julianne Viani. After a Hudson Valley free throw, she hit back-to-back three-pointers, the second of which came on a quick release when she used a screen to rub off her defender, University at Buffalo grad Stephanie Bennett. She finished off Hudson Valley's run with an assist on Emma Markley's basket that put Western in a 58-30 hole with 11:10 to play.
In Empire Games open competition, it's rare when a graduating high school senior makes a major impact in a tournament loaded with current Division I college players. In Hudson Valley's opening 88-62 win over Long Island, Flooks had two points.
"Yesterday I got a feeling of what it's like to play against Division I players and it's a different game and definitely a change," said Flooks, who was named a first-team all-star by Westchester's Journal News. "Coming out today I was more confident in myself and started playing my game again. I realized I can compete with these girls."
"She played hard today and didn't back down one bit," said Hudson Valley coach Alan Viani, an AAU coach who is Julianne Viani's father. "She's a hard-nosed kid and she's a scorer. She gave us a big lift right when we needed it."
Flooks had a memorable Games even before competition started -- she helped light the torch during Wednesday's opening ceremonies.
Bennett had 18 points to lead Western, which still can earn a spot in a medal game if it wins today's noon game against Long Island.
The scholastic team improved to 2-0 with a 91-81 victory over the host region. Rush-Henrietta's Shenise Johnson led the way with 28 points while Joelle Connelly (Pioneer) had nine points and Erinne Cunningham (Jamestown) had six.