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Fredonia girls rally but can't take down undefeated Midlakes

HENRIETTA — The Fredonia girls basketball team has grown accustomed to bouncing back this season.
So the Hillbillies’ late surge in Saturday night’s Class B Far West Regionals at Rush-Henrietta High School wasn’t a surprise to coach Carol Zirkle.

Down almost all game and as many as 12 in the third quarter, Fredonia stormed back to take a 60-58 lead on a Hannah Gullo 3-pointer with 5:25 to play. But Section V’s Midlakes countered in a big way, scoring the final 12 points in a 70-60 victory to advance to the state semifinals.

“I am a little disappointed in some of the things we didn’t execute,” Zirkle said. “I’m not questioning the effort. We just didn’t execute. It’s tough in a Far West Regional game to have 25 turnovers and to come back and win.”

This one was the nightcap of a five-game Far West Regional girls basketball slate in which Section VI went 3-2 against its Section V counterparts.

Senior guard Katie Price hit seven 3-pointers on the way to 29 points for Fredonia (13-13) while superstar Alaina Forbes equaled that scoring output for Midlakes, which improved to 25-0.

The Hillbillies had a magical postseason run following an 0-4 start to the year and a sub.-500 regular-season mark. But don’t let the numbers fool you. Fredonia beefed up its non-league schedule to prepare the group for championship moments, even if it meant fewer wins before the playoffs.

“They don’t quit,” Zirkle said. “We talked about how far they came from starting the season 0-4 and no one had any faith in us. I thought they came out and fought back.”

Regular-season tests against top competition in Western New York and elsewhere left Fredonia immune to what otherwise could have been a daunting 12-point, second-half deficit against the Screaming Eagles.

“We saw a lot of amazing players (this season),” Price said of how the Hillbillies’ tough schedule that included matchups with several state-ranked teams readied them for the postseason. “Just playing against different great players helped us be able to guard people like (Forbes on Saturday). It was a learning process the entire season and that’s why we got so far.”

Gracie Morrison had 10 points and eight blocks in a losing effort while A’Cetta Farriat chipped in seven points and 13 rebounds for the Hillbillies. Gullo recorded seven points and seven assists.

Down the stretch, though, the Screaming Eagles displayed why they’ve been able to close out every game this season.
Twenty-five Fredonia turnovers — and some at inopportune times — didn’t help the Hillbillies’ cause, either.

“(Midlakes) stepped it up on defense and we weren’t getting quite the open shots that we were getting before that,” Zirkle said of the determining final five minutes. “That’s when we had a couple bad turnovers.”

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