There were times during Saturday’s Class AA Far West Regional when it seemed that if Jamestown could keep knocking down its threes, and keep getting an outstanding performance from standout senior Chrisanna Green, that they just might be able to score an upset and earn a trip to the state final four.
However, undefeated Rush-Henrietta was too big, and too talented, as it steadily overwhelmed the Red Raiders in the second half to win, 53-45, before an estimated crowd of 500 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
The Royal Comets (22-0), ranked fifth in the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll, wore down the No. 25 Red Raiders (17-6) to move on to next weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals in Troy.
For Rush-Henrietta, 6-foot-0 senior Emily Nestler had 16 points, 6-1 American University-bound senior Dana Watts had 13 and 5-10 Sarah Sweazy, who will play at Division II Roberts Wesleyan next year, added 11 points.
“Obviously their size overwhelmed us,” Jamestown coach Tim Anderson said. “They had a lot of key offensive rebounds and their bigs did a good job of dumping in on some of our girls. It wasn’t our night tonight. … Their pressure hurt us, and their size hurt us, a little bit more than I thought it would.”
Green continued a stellar postseason with 24 points, but Rush-Henrietta’s big bodies proved too much for her to get through as the game wore on. The 5-8 senior, who will play at Division II Seton Hill in Pennsylvania next year, was exceptional, particularly in a first quarter in which she had 10 of her team’s points as Jamestown took a 16-15 lead.
“I knew that even if we won this game, she was always going to be the best player on the floor,” Anderson said. “She showed that for pretty good stretches to keep us in the game at different points. She accomplished as much as any girl who has played at our school. In Western New York, she’ll go down as one of the better players anyone’s ever seen.”
Green’s play, coupled with some timely three-pointers from her teammates, kept a game in which seemingly every possession was valued a close one until Jamestown wore down in the fourth. Senior point guard Peyton Butts had three three-pointers to account for her nine points while junior Kate Tucker, senior Hannah Pollino and Green also hit threes as the tight game leaned slightly in favor of Rush by halftime (26-25) and after three quarters (36-31).
At the 1:15 mark of the fourth, Rush-Henrietta 5-4 junior guard Destinee Johnson hit a three to put the Royal Comets up, 40-31. Butts hit her final three a few moments later to cut the lead to 42-37, but soon after Butts fouled out, with 2:42 left and Jamestown down 43-38. The Royal Comets would extend their lead the rest of the way.
“It was very exhausting, you had to fight for everything,” an emotional Green said of battling Rush-Henrietta’s front line. It stinks “to go out the way we did – but I love my girls. We had seven seniors and I played with Peyton and Dayzah” Coleman “since seventh grade. I’m upset but … Go Raiders.”
Rush-Henrietta will play Section XI (Suffolk County, L.I.) champion Commack at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Hudson Valley Community College.