It’s no secret who Cleveland Hill wants to feed the ball to when the team needs a basket in crunch time. Junior Sydney Turley has proved time after time to be the Eagles’ go-to scorer.
Yet with just two minutes to go in the C-1 semifinals, and Cleveland Hill clinging to a one-point lead over Tapestry, it was Turley who took a backseat and watched her teammates rise to the occasion to beat Tapestry, 53-45, at Sweet Home High School on Wednesday night.
Point guard Jayla James finished a pretty up-and-under post move to put the Eagles up three. Then Turley found senior captain Jala Gilliam open and Gilliam drilled a three-pointer to make it a six-point game. Then James forced a steal and iced the game from the free throw line.
Just like that, Cleveland Hill was in control and on its way to the Section VI championship for the second consecutive year. Cleveland Hill will play Allegany-Limestone at Jamestown Community College on Saturday for the C-1 title.
“Our role players really came through down the stretch,” Cleveland Hill coach Kristin Wegrzyn said. “They all wanted the ‘W.’ Sydney is such a strong player, but she’s very unselfish. There are times we’ll tell her to take it to the hoop, but she’ll find someone open and pass it up. Today she did a great job at finding open teammates.”
Make no mistake, Turley certainly got her share on Wednesday night as the junior went basket for basket with Tapestry leading scorer Nia Caver (20.4 ppg) all night. Turley finished with 18 points, while Caver had 19.
Cleveland Hill made history last year, winning its first sectional title in school history. Now the Eagles have a chance to make it two in a row.
“We lost a few people last year, but we realized that we really wanted to go back and go all the way this year,” Turley said.
Tapestry junior Tatiana Smith led all scorers with 20 points, while Gilliam had 15 and James had 11 for Cleve Hill.
As far as individual performances go, no one outdid Olean freshman Sara Pfeiffer on Wednesday.
Pfeiffer poured in 37 points – including six three-pointers – to lead Olean to a 74-41 win over Albion in the B-1 semis. Leading just 9-8 in the first quarter, Pfeiffer scored 10 straight points during a 16-0 Olean run to break the game open.
“I think our defense picked us up. Once our press was going, everyone got into their rhythm,” Pfeiffer said. “I figured if I picked us up and started scoring, our whole team would do that.”
Olean returns to the Section VI title game for the first time since 2013. The Huskies will take on top-seeded East Aurora – the winner of the other B-1 semi – at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Buffalo State.
East Aurora advanced to the title game with a 60-34 victory over Depew. Depew handed East Aurora its lone league loss earlier this season, and the Blue Devils only won by four in the second meeting. The third time around was a no-doubter as East Aurora held a commanding lead for much of Wednesday’s contest, including holding Depew to just 13 first-half points.
“I think we just got after them defensively,” East Aurora coach Gary Schutrum said. “We set a tone and never let it go. That was the difference. We were passive the last two times; it’s nice to see us play a little better come playoff time.”