Even Sara Pfeiffer’s dreams don’t work out as perfectly as real life did on Sunday afternoon.
Pfeiffer, the high scorer for Olean’s girls basketball team, had the ball on the outside. Her team was tied with East Aurora, 60-60, in overtime. The Class B-1 title was on the line at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
“There were a lot of nerves there,” Pfeiffer said. “I realized I should take the shot, because no one else was open.”
The freshman guard made a nice little move to get open along the baseline and launched about an 18-footer.
“I had a lot of faith in my shots,” Pfeiffer said. “I had taken some other shots and they went in. I can’t describe the feeling when it went in.”
Pfeiffer’s basket gave Olean a thrilling 62-60 win over East Aurora, and it allowed coach Randy Samuelson to finally relax a bit after a tense meeting between two of the best small schools in Western New York.
“We’ve seen her make big shots before,” Samuelson said. “She wants the ball and accepts her role. But the other kids stepped up, too. Everyone did their job.”
Samuelson spent much of the afternoon wondering how his team could compete with the taller Blue Devils on the backboards. On a couple of occasions, the Blue Devils made a basket, got fouled, missed the free throw – and grabbed the rebound and scored for a four-point play of sorts.
It was a fairly close game throughout between the two teams that had been at the top of the small school rankings in The Buffalo News girls basketball poll. East Aurora would pound the ball inside a couple of times to get some relatively easy baskets, and Olean would counter with some good shooting (nine three-pointers on the day). At one point in the fourth quarter, Pfeiffer had outscored the rest of her team.
The rebounding edge, though, looked as though it would be the difference. With less than a minute left, East Aurora had a 51-46 lead. Then Pfeiffer hit a three from an NBA-like distance with 21 seconds left. The Huskies were looking to foul – with Pfeiffer avoiding contact because she knew she had four fouls – only to see Ky Andreano of Olean make a steal with 15 seconds left.
Andreano drove to the basket and scored the tying points with 8 seconds to go – her only basket of the game. Olean missed a three-point try at the end of regulation.
In overtime, senior Courtney Martin took charge for a while. She scored seven straight points to put the Huskies up, 60-57. But the Blue Devils had one last answer: Julianna Meisenheimer made a free throw, while Sarah Tully hit a layup with 16 seconds to go.
That set the stage for the thrilling finish by Pfeiffer, who finished the game with 28 points.
“It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in,” she said.
Emma Brinker led East Aurora with 17 points.
The Huskies move on to Wednesday’s game against Southwestern, the B-2 champion.