Hannah Cybart emerged from the Fredonia girls basketball locker room Wednesday night just after the screams of delight from inside had subsided ... a little. Her smile was intact.
"It was so much better than what I thought it would be," the Hillbillies standout said. "You can't really picture this level of happiness."
But you could hear it. A few minutes before that, Cybart had led Fredonia to a 53-47 win over Wilson. It gave the Hillbillies their first Class B overall championship in 13 years.
Cybart was the difference in the game. She scored 27 points in an outstanding all-around performance. Need a three-pointer? A drive to the basket? A big rebound? Defensive pressure? Cybart even held the door open for a few people on the way to the locker room area after the game.
"She is such a phenomenal player," Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said. "She's a leader on the court. When we get in trouble on offense, it's 'Hannah, go get the ball.' She knows that, too."
Zirkle wasn't sure which team would come out for the start of the game. In their last contest, Depew jumped out to a big lead early, forcing the Hillbillies to climb uphill for much of the game. But the reverse was true in a game before that.
"We came out strong, and played with a lot of confidence," Zirkle said. "It's a game of runs."
On offense, Fredonia wasn't sure how Wilson would try to defend its offense. So the Hillbillies prepared for everything and anything.
"We have watched game tape after game tape after game tape," Zirkle said. "We prepared for the 1-3-1, the 2-3, the triangle-and-two, the box-and-one, man-for-man. That's all we did for the last couple of days."
At the other end, the Hillbillies were worried about trying to stop, or at least slow, Rachel Senek and Kayla Neumann of the Lakewomen. Zirkle knew quite well what they could do.
"It's always hard to beat a team three times in a year," she said. "Defensively, all of the girls stepped up. The defense was great."
To her credit, Senek didn't score much from the field but she was perfection at the line. The senior was an impressive 14 for 14 on free throws. That helped her pile up 24 points, while Neumann was held to eight.
A good third quarter put Fredonia up, 45-31, after 24 minutes, and it was still a 12-point game with 3:13 to play. Wilson fought back to get the lead down to six (51-45) with 36 seconds left. But that was as close as it got.
"We just got down by too many, too soon," Lakewomen coach Brian Baker said. "The girls kept fighting. I'm really proud of them. They never gave up."
Now it's on to the Far West Regionals against a Section V opponent at Buffalo State's Sports Arena on Saturday. Cybart will try to raise her level of happiness after that.
"We purposely played a tough non-league schedule and put it a lot of hard work and late nights of homework," she said. "It's all been worth it."