It was far from easy, but Lake Shore’s road to return to SUNY Buffalo State to defend its sectional crown has finally been crossed.
Andrea Conrad added plenty of new faces to her roster, filled with four eighth-graders, a sophomore and just one senior, but her top-seeded Lady Eagles (17-4) squeaked out a 43-36 victory over No. 4 Pioneer to advance to the Section VI Class A2 final at 5 p.m Sunday at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Awaiting them will be No. 2 Kenmore East, which defeated No. 6 Cheektowaga, 56-52, in the earlier game on Tuesday in front of 300 at Sweet Home.
“If we play like we did tonight we will lose at Buff State,” said Conrad. “What we did tonight to try to cut some of the nerves out was to win every quarter.”
Lake Shore built a 36-25 fourth quarter lead behind Gowanda transfer Raeann White’s 16 points – the 900th of her career – before the Panthers stormed back, making it a one possession game after a Shania Platt trey made it a 38-36 game.
The Eagles rushed shots for much of the remainder of the quarter but sealed the game with free throws and a clutch White layup.
Lacrosse standout Shayla Scanlan added 11 points and 14 boards in the win while eighth- grader Noelani Corndfield scored 9. Her classmate, Jadyn Jones, controlled the pace at point.
Sophomore Serena Sordetto made four three-pointers, the biggest coming with 37.4 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a lead it would hold on to to drop Cheektowaga, 56-52, to advance to the Class A2 final, where they have not won a title since 2007.
“It was a goal since our first practice,” said Sordetto, who finished the contest with 21 points. “We knew we had the talent to go to Buffalo State.”
East led much of the game until a back-and-forth fourth quarter saw Cheektowaga take the lead when Kenetria Redfern completed a three-point play to put her Warriors up 52-51 with 51 seconds to go.
Jack Blanch spread his offense out in the fourth to space out his shooters. The game plan accounted for a 22-point quarter.
Sordetto, a 5-10 forward, set her defender up on the right baseline, faking a drive before leaping over her defender for a well-contested three point attempt that tickled the twine.
Cheektowaga had a chance to respond but Jack Blanch’s Bulldogs were ready for the inbounds play and forced a turnover, then extending their lead at the charity stripe.
“[Sordetto] had the game of her life,” said Cheektowaga coach Justin Garbacz “She hit four threes. That’s what killed us.” “They worked really hard and we had some adversity tonight,” said Blanch, who pointed out strong performances by Kiaja O’Neil and Carianne McCarthy, who snagged a loose ball late in the game.
The Bulldogs overcame a offensive juggernaut in Redfern’s 30-point outing. Kendall Mills and Alexis Lagattuta each notched 10 for East.