Alanna Dibble was determined to play another game.
Southwestern’s senior center made season-saving plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute to seal the Trojans’ 45-42 win over Wilson in the Section VI Class B-2 championship game Sunday before an estimated crowd of 500 people at Buffalo State’s Sports Arena.
Dibble swallowed up Wilson’s Emily Kelly’s attempt at a go-ahead basket with 20 seconds remaining then sank two clutch free throws to cap her 14-point, 16-rebound performance.
“I gave my everything and just didn’t want to to give the points back,” said Dibble, who wrote “Play for J” on her sneakers in memory of her best friend’s brother, Justin Romaniuk, the victim of a fatal crash in the Town of Charlotte in January.
Avenging its loss to Wilson in last year’s sectional quarterfinals, the Southwestern squad with only eight players on its roster overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat the defending champions and win its second sectional title in three years, but first under coach Dave Turnbull.
“I couldn’t be happier for the kids,” Turnbull said. “I can’t say enough about the heart they’ve showed all year long.”
Wilson was able to limit opportunities for Southwestern’s leading scorer, junior guard Erin Radack, early on and opened a 25-16 lead after Skylar Munnikhuysen banked in a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer.
“We made a couple adjustments that helped us,” Turnball said. “I put Erin in the high post because she was getting box-and-oned most of the game. We were able to run our offense better. I thought the girls were a little bit taken aback because Erin wasn’t getting as many touches as she usually does.”
Wilson still held a 32-26 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but Southwestern was relentless on the glass and scored a number of second-chance baskets to close the gap.
“They out-rebounded us big-time in those situations and that hurt,” Wilson coach Brian Baker said.
Radack made two free throws to give Southwestern a 43-42 lead with 22 seconds left and Dibble calmly hit her two attempts after missing a couple foul shots earlier in the quarter.
“She came up big at the foul line,” Turnbull said. “I joked with her, in the Gowanda (semifinal) game, she air-balled a foul shot, so she more than made up for that.”
Radack finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals.
Southwestern (21-2) will now meet Fredonia (12-12) for the overall Class B championship on Wednesday night at Buff State. The Trojans won both regular season meetings by double digits.
“I know (Fredonia) coach (Carol) Zirkle will have a lot of adjustments,” Turnbull said. “She’s a great coach, they are a good team and it will be a heck of a battle.”
Kelly and Skylar Munnikhuysen led Wilson (15-8) with 12 points each. Amanda Murray added 10. Shea Munnikhuysen played with a protective mask on her face after breaking her nose in Wilson’s semifinal win over Olmsted.
Said Baker, “I’m super proud of their effort.”