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Sacred Heart nips Nardin -- again Niagara Catholic, Olean also win titles

Sacred Heart and Niagara Catholic got an early edge on some Monsignor Martin Association rivals in Friday's 21st Al & Rose Pastor Tournament Championships, while Olean and East are hoping that Friday night's meeting is the first of a pair.

In a packed Charles L. & Gloria B. Lumsden Gymnasium at Daemen College, Sacred Heart scored its fifth straight win over rival Nardin in the girls title game, 44-41, while the Niagara Catholic boys beat Cardinal O'Hara, 80-68, in the final of the County Executive's Division.

In the finale of the championship tripleheader, Olean made the most of its trip north by using a 28-12 third quarter to earn a 67-55 victory over East in the Mayor's Division final. The only way those two will meet again is if they are playing for the overall Section VI Class B title in March.

Sacred Heart (4-0) trailed the girls final at halftime (16-13), but a defensive adjustment by Sacred Heart coach Sister Maria Pares helped the Sharks to a 18-10 quarter that changed the momentum of the game against the Gators (3-1). The Sharks won all four of the rivals' battles last season, including a 40-36 win in the league title game.

"The wing dropped down [on defense] and that stopped them from hitting threes," said MVP Meaghan Daley.

Daley scored eight of her 16 points in the third quarter, swishing two high-arching threes from the top of the key and converting a great back door cut layup off a pass from Gina Ricotta (13 points).

"I was practicing my threes yesterday in the gym," she said, "and I was feeling it."

Nardin's Kendra Brim, who will play at Colgate next year, scored 12 of her 14 in the second half. A three-pointer by Claire Hourihan (17 points) and a baseline jumper by Brim cut the Sacred Heart lead to 40-38 with 1:43 left, but on Sacred Heart's next possession, Katherine Keller (nine points) hit a jumper off a screen by Krystal Watson.

Niagara Catholic (5-0) used a run-and-gun first half to go ahead, 27-11, after one quarter and take as much as a 21-point lead in the second. The Patriots' first quarter included not only nice finishes from game MVP Dyrell Dolson (20 points), A.J. Roberts (22) and Jeremiah Jones (15), but guards Mike Volpe (14) and Matt Mara (seven) each hit three-pointers.

"We've got a long way to go yet," said Niagara Catholic coach Chuck Sprigg, "but that first quarter was about as good a quarter as we could open up with."

Niagara Catholic's lead was 43-27 at halftime, but O'Hara (2-1) rallied to cut it to 58-52 early in the fourth quarter behind great transitions by James Ewing (24 points) and Garrison Gross (23) before Dolson and Roberts scored inside to get the lead back to double digits.

In a game filled with the intensity and energy of a sectional final in March, Olean (Class B-1) of CCIAC I and East (B-2) of the Yale Cup both established themselves as favorites in their respective classes and leagues the rest of the season.

Olean (4-0) erased a 32-21 halftime deficit thanks in large part to MVP Zach Moore (24 points), who had 11 points and three of his four three-pointers during the third quarter. One of the threes ended a 14-2 run that helped Olean head to the fourth with control (49-44). East (3-1) ended the first quarter with a 13-4 run punctuated by a final-minute three-pointer by Jamal Webb (13 points) that provided a 17-14 lead. Brandon Hall had 23 points to lead East.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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