Hamburg is going back to Buffalo State.
It was another challenging game in a season full of them for the Bulldogs, but they came away with a 45-43 win over Grand Island on Wednesday night in the Class A-1 semifinals at Clarence due to some key plays late.
Hamburg will play Williamsville South for the championship Sunday. In the second game Wednesday, the Billies got off to a fast start against rival Williamsville East and never looked back, 77-41.
Early on, it seemed to Hamburg coach Kelly Owens that her team just didn’t have luck on its side.
“I think our biggest challenge was we were getting the shots we wanted and they weren’t falling,” Owens said. “(Grand Island) came out and they hit shots.”
But that was no reason for the Bulldogs to back down, as they lived up to their name by fighting back the entire game.
“We just keep shooting,” Owens said. “We keep looking to attack the basket, get the layups, and keep the foot on the gas pedal.”
Brigid McKeone was a model of consistency for Hamburg as she scored two points in the first and added four per quarter for the rest of the night.
“We got back into it because we kept our heads up,” McKeone said.
With just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, McKeone put Hamburg up 40-39 with two free throws. Two more with 1:33 left gave the Bulldogs some insurance.
“I was very nervous and stressed, but I had to tell myself to just focus, and that’s what I did,” McKeone said.
Jane Chiacchia’s defense was key to the Bulldogs’ win as well, as mentioned by both McKeone and Owens.
“She did an awesome job,” McKeone said.
In the nightcap, as expected, Amari DeBerry led the way with 22 points for Williamsville South.
“Amari’s worked exceptionally hard and she’s a very gifted athlete, as you can see,” Williamsville South coach Kristen Dolan said. “She loves her teammates, and she gives a lot of credit to her teammates as well.
“It was key to get off to a start like we did tonight because I’m hoping that we’re finding a little bit of a rhythm. We were out of sync at some points during the season, so this is a step in the right direction.”
Right behind DeBerry was junior transfer Tatyjana Scalisi with 18 points for the Billies.
“The coaching staff has always known Tatyjana’s kind of more or less our X-factor,” Dolan said. “She brings so much heart and intensity. The other girls feed off of that.”
“I couldn’t have performed as well as I did without my teammates, so I have to give them a lot of credit because they’re always there to support me,” Scalisi said.
Scalisi is excited for her first opportunity to play at Buffalo State.
“I’m really excited about that,” she said. “I feel that this team can really get us through there.”