Those who liked plenty of scoring wouldn’t have enjoyed Sunday’s B-2 girls basketball final at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
But for Southwestern, it was a thing of beauty.
The Trojans did just enough scoring to come away with a 46-41 win over Fredonia and a Section VI crown, their first since 2012.
“It was a great defensive battle,” coach Anne Beck said. “We see each other all the time. We know each other well. We split two games earlier in the month. It was just one of those games in which everything was contested.”
Southwestern, the No. 4 seed, had one of the best balanced score sheets by a team in recent memory. No Trojans were in double figures. However, Erin Radack had nine points, Sally Rudny and Maddie Sullivan had seven, Diamond Fedrick had six and Kendyl Austin and Hayden Burgeson had five each.
“I think in one game this season we had four in double figures,” Beck said. “It’s nice to have lots of people contribute.”
Hannah Cybart led Fredonia, the third seed, with 13 points.
Each team had to make a long morning drive to Buffalo State for the game, and both squads appeared nervous in the first half, with frequent traveling violations and forced shots.
In fact, it took more than four minutes to put something on the scoreboard, and the first entry was a bit surprising. Tiona Pittman of Fredonia hit a three-pointer from the right wing for the first points in the game, and 90 seconds later she struck from long range again. But those were the Hillbillies’ only points of the period. Southwestern scored a couple of baskets in the final two minutes to take a 7-6 lead after a quarter.
The scoring pace picked up in the second quarter. The Trojans hit on five of six free throws in the period to improve their output. Caitlin Cybart added a three to go with two free throws for Fredonia. A Pittman free throw shortly before the half gave the Hillbillies a 16-16 tie.
In the third quarter, Southwestern had a couple of little spurts to take the lead – and then painstakingly built the margin for the next several minutes. In fact, the lead reached 10 at 39-29 with only four minutes left. But it was hardly time to celebrate. Fredonia cut the lead to four (39-35) with 2:14 left and to three points (41-38) with 44 seconds to go.
But Southwestern was able to hang on, and free throw shooting was a big reason. The Trojans made 14 free throws in the second half, valuable points in a game that didn’t have many.
“At the beginning of the season, we took a step back and looked at things,” Beck said. “We knew a lot of games would come down to the end, so free throws would be important.”
There is at least one more game to be played after this for Southwestern, but a Section VI title is always a thrill.
“It feels great,” Beck said.