Coach Shawn Huntington’s favorite thing about Mckenna Maycock has nothing to do with her being a prolific scorer .
“When you speak to her, she speaks back. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves is the way kids don’t pay attention,” the Randolph girls basketball coach said. “It’s kind of a lost art, they speak when it’s convenient to them. Mckenna is very grown up in that aspect.”
She’s also a communicator on the basketball floor. The Randolph senior is 31 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer in Western New York girls basketball history.
Her first chance to break the mark is Saturday when the Cardinals play Bradford, Pa., at 11 a.m. in the first round of the IABBO Tournament. She’ll enter the game with 2,496 points, just shy of the record 2,527 held since 2012 by Crystle Marion of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.
Maycock is averaging 30.2 points in Randolph’s first six games, all wins. She has been starting since seventh grade. She scored 504 career points while still in grade school.
Maycock has a nice supporting cast. Sophomore Haley Hettenbaugh had 29 points against Cattaraugus/Little Valley. Junior Peyton Terrette is a three-year starter and MacKenzie Marsh possesses a soft shot and has worked hard on her passing.
“This is a great group, I can’t wait to see what they have in store,” Huntington said. “There’s only eight of them, but they run on eight cylinders. They’re freaks on the court, fun to watch.”
Cardinal O’Hara is coming off a historic season in which it became the first team from the Monsignor Martin Association to win the Federation’s title in Class A. Anndea Zeigler made the all-tournament team as a freshman.
The road back could be a long one as all five starters graduated. The Hawks are off to a 4-1 start, which includes a one-point win over defending Section VI Class AA champion Jamestown. Summer Hemphill, a transfer from Buffalo Arts, has earned a starting spot. Sophomore PG Cori Dickson brings some big game experience, having started three of the last four games last season. The Hawks bring 6-2 freshman Kiara Johnson off the bench.
Nick O’Neil, an assistant coach the past three years, takes over for Dan McDermott, who remains on the staff as an assistant.
“We’re pretty athletic, the starting five are quick and we have some size,” McDermott said. “It’s a pretty good mix of athleticism as well as size; we’re trying to get to know each other.”
Defending New York State Class C champion Chautauqua Lake has a real presence in the middle with no-nonsense forward Jenna Einink, a returning All-WNY second teamer and CCAA II West MVP. Teams who focus too much on Einink will pay the price when the ball goes to guard Courtney Hewes, who is an explosive scorer, and center Ashton Albanesius. All three were captains on last year’s 24-1 Thunderbirds.
After playing last season as an independent, Olean rejoins its familiar CCAA West I.
The girls went independent when the boys did. While the boys had a talented enough roster to compete, the girls did not.
“We were overmatched, the girls did not belong independent,” said coach Randy Samuelson. “It helped them, they played great competition. Our girls weren’t there.”
Sophomore Chantel Singleton is the only returning starter. She would have been joined by Rachel Painter, but the talented senior saw her high school career come to end after tearing her MCL and ACL playing in an open gym situation just before the start of the season. The injury required two surgeries.
Samuelson has been impressed with how she’s dealt with the setback.
“She never once complained,” he said. “She said it would be ‘OK, Coach.’ She’s handled it like a young lady should. She never misses a practice, she has her hands in everything we do. She won’t score a bucket for us this year, but she’s a big part of our team.”
A promising young player for the Huskies is eighth-grader Sara Pfeiffer. She had 25 points in her first varsity game, an 82-79 loss to Wellsville. “She’s a fun player to watch, she’s not intimidated, she plays hard and has as much fun as anybody,” Samuelson said.
Kenmore West’s Samantha Britton is establishing herself as one of the top frontcourt players in the NFL. The 6-0 junior forward is strong in the paint, athletic and is proving a tough matchup. She’s averaging 20 ppg and has the Blue Devils off to a 4-0, 5-0 start.
Tapestry, last year’s Class C-1 champion, has a talented sophomore in Nia Caver (16 ppg) and senior guard Shaquana Owens (17 ppg). The Thunderhawks lost to eventual state champion Chautauqua Lake in last year’s crossover game.
Wilson, last year’s Class B-2 champion, looks strong despite the graduation of seven. Two sophomores will carry the load in the backcourt: Rachel Senek and Kayla Neumann. The Lakewomen are going for their sixth consecutive Niagara-Orleans League title. During that span the team has gone 80-4.
Junior forward Jordan Heinold, fourth team All-WNY, will lead Immaculata.
Juniors Sarah Young of Sacred Heart and Emily Miller of Christian Central are the only returning All-Catholic picks.
Around the ECIC
Jamestown has one of the best backcourts in the section as it looks to repeat as Class AA champion. Chrisanna Green is a returning All-WNY first teamer, fourth team All-New York State. Her work on extending her shooting range over the summer has helped her average 27 ppg and 16 rpg through five games this season. Peyton Butts is a returning All-WNY honorable mention. She worked this offseason on her shooting range and handling the ball while improving her point guard skills.
It’s still early, but no one has figured out yet how to slow Williamsville East’s freshman point guard Erica Martinsen. She is averaging 28.2 ppg through five games, including a school record 40 against Lake Shore and 34 against Kenmore West. Securing the boards will be forwards Erin Jozwiak and Carly Shifflet. Maria Blanco is an exchange student from Spain.
Orchard Park will be led this season by a pair of four-year varsity players. Captain Shaye Swiatek is a strong shooting guard (10 ppg) and captain. Abbie Probst is a low post player who gets blocks and averages double digits in rebounds.
Clarence promises to be competitive with returning scorer and ECIC I All-Star Gabbi Pacatte and junior point guard Molly Barden, who is averaging 10 points and 5.0 steals a game.
East Aurora is coming off last year’s Class A-2 and ECIC III titles. East Aurora’s Erin Nason was an All-ECIC Small School All-Star (14.5 ppg). She is supported by sophomore PG Julianna Meisenheimer, who earned all-league a year ago. Freshman Emma Brinker led the Blue Devils in rebounding with 9.0 per game and tossed in 14 points per game.
Starpoint’s lineup includes last year’s top two scorers: junior Erica Bradley (12 ppg) and senior Jenna Faulkner (11 ppg). Bradley is coming off a successful AAU season working on her inside game while Faulkner continues her hot shooting from behind the arc. Starpoint is off to a 5-0 start and 3-0 in ECIC II.
Williamsville North looks to make another run at a title with junior Ericka Taplin.
Cleveland Hill is looking strong in ECIC IV with Shadymone Newsome.
Holland junior Olivia Schmidt was third team All-WNY as well as the ECIC IV MVP. She was named All-WNY in soccer in the fall.
Cheektowaga has a pair of players who have been averaging a double-double per game: senior Taliyah Hopkins (19/11) and freshman Ranya Rumph (12/11.5).
Lake Shore’s Darian Evans, a four-year starting forward, has three double-doubles in five games. She’s going to continue her career at D’Youville.
Look for fourth team All-WNY guard Colleen Wirth of Iroquois to have a big senior year.
New coaches galore
There was tremendous turnover in the coaching ranks this offseason, including four moves each in the Monsignor Martin and Niagara Frontier leagues. Last year there were 14 changes among the 104 Western New York schools. This year there are 28.
Tim Nobles started at Pine Valley in 1980-1981. He was the head coach for 31 seasons and an assistant in 1997-99. Nobles’ career record of 537-146 includes six state titles, 12 Section VI titles and 17 league championships. His team last year won the Section VI Class D championship, finishing 18-3.
“So many people have been a part of this run” said Nobles, who cited his mentors longtime PV coach and teacher Doug Zanghi and original girls basketball coach Jerry Skurcenski. “I’m pleased with what we did.”
Bryelle Cortright takes over as head coach after serving as Nobles’ assistant for seven years. She was on three of the Lady Panthers’ state championship teams.
“I always wanted to leave while I still loved it, and I did,” he said. “I don’t regret retiring, but I miss it like crazy.”
Jeff Martin, who has been on Licata’s coaching staff for all 28 seasons, takes over.
Jack Blanch is back after a three-year absence at Kenmore East. He coached 20 years in his previous stint, winning 314 games.
Dave Sardo has returned to Hutch-Tech after two seasons off. Among the athletic, scrappy players he’ll be working with is returning All-High pick Monica June.
The Section VI girls basketball website is: www.section6girlsbasketball.com.