Olean girls basketball coach Randy Samuelson was surprised to hear what sort of night his point guard, Sara Pfeiffer, had on Wednesday.
“Thirty-three? Oh my God!” he said, referring to her point total. “But that’s her. She’s got it. Certain players have just got it.
“She’s so much fun in practice, and she’s a joy to be around.”
Pfeiffer didn’t quite outscore the rest of her team’s combined total, but it was close. The Huskies (23-1) defeated Southwestern, 67-54, in Buffalo State Sports Arena to claim the overall Class B title.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s hard to explain. The girls haven’t gone this far in a long time. Hopefully we can go on from here.”
The tone for this one was set fairly early. With a pair of wins over Southwestern earlier this season, Olean didn’t want to give the Trojans much of a chance to gain any confidence this time around. After giving up the opening basket, the Huskies took care of that obstacle.
Courtney Martin hit a layup, Pfeiffer scored two baskets, and Bridgid Taylor made a three-pointer – making the score 9-2 after less than three minutes. The Southwestern offense picked up after that, but it couldn’t keep up with Pfeiffer. The freshman guard scored all 10 of her team’s points in the rest of the quarter, bringing her total for the quarter to 14. Olean led, 19-10, after Pfeiffer’s drive just beat the buzzer.
“I started to realize that I could just drive it, and they couldn’t stop me,” she said. “Once I picked it up, we got in our rhythm.
“I figured that if we started slow, we would play the whole game that way. But if we started well, we could pick it up.”
Southwestern (15-9) showed some life at the start of the second quarter. The Trojans scored six straight points to cut the lead to three. But Olean rebounded when Noelle Anzivine came off the bench to provide a big lift. She scored on a drive to the basket, a 5-foot jumper and a three-pointer to give the Huskies a 27-18 lead. That became a 34-23 lead by halftime.
“Noelle really came out and did a good job,” Samuelson said about the forward, who had 11 points. “She’s not really a scorer, but she took the ball to the basket when she had the chance. They were sagging off her to guard some of the others.”
From there, Olean had an answer for what Southwestern did. The Trojans put on a few small runs to get within striking distances, but the Huskies came back with a couple of baskets to make the lead safe again.
“We knew they’d come out hard,” Samuelson said about Southwestern. “They just put their heads down and ran right through us. They had nothing to lose.”
Olean’s lead never was lower than double digits in the fourth quarter. That was in spite of the efforts of Southwestern’s Hayden Burgeon and Maddie Sullivan, who had 13 points each.
Near the end of the game when Samuelson cleared his bench, his players showed some genuine emotion about taking the championship.
“At the beginning of the season, no one expected us to do this well,” Pfeiffer said. “But once we got to about 19-1 or so, we said we can go pretty far.”
In this case, Olean’s team will be going next to Rush-Henrietta High School in Rochester. It will play Livonia in the Far West Regionals on Saturday.
“We watched them play Tuesday night, and they play a lot like Southwestern,” Samuelson said. “We’re happy to be there, and we’ll give it our all.”