The Section VI girls basketball program does a nice job of paying homage to the past. The book features pictures of the previous year’s winners in all classifications. It also has the list of all-time champions – going as far back as 1976.
Frontier isn’t listed anywhere in the history section of the book.
That will change starting next year because of what the Falcons (20-3) accomplished Wednesday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
The third time proved to be the charm as Frontier secured its first Section VI championship in the sport by defeating Williamsville North, 52-33, in Class AA before an estimated 1,000. The duo of Claire Kruszka and Kennedy Izzo shined for a Falcons crew that forced a bunch of turnovers with its press to fuel its transition game. Kruszka and Izzo each scored 20 points to lead the Falcons, who advance to Far West Regionals for the first time.
They will face Section V champion Bishop Kearney at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Buffalo State Sports Arena to kick off a five-game slate of New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association quarterfinal contests.
“It feels amazing,” Kruszka said. “Coming in we were all talking about it because we were all really nervous. But we knew that three times if we lost that would be kind of embarrassing but I’m really proud.”
“These kids and the coaches and myself put in a lot of time in the offseason,” triumphant coach Rick Mihalik said. “Just getting this one for our community and school and seniors ... I couldn’t be happier because of all the hard work that goes in when nobody’s watching during the offseason.”
After losses to Clarence and Orchard Park the past two years in the title game, top-seeded Frontier wouldn’t be denied this time around against a Spartans crew making its first championship game appearance since reaching the state final four in 2016.
The Falcons, who admitted to being somewhat nervous before tip, pounced on a North team coached by the area’s winningest active coach in Bill Shaw. They bolted to a 13-1 lead, with eight of those points coming in consecutive fashion off takeaways. Izzo’s buzzer-beating three gave Frontier a 16-4 lead after one quarter.
“It was important for us to get off to the start that we got off to for our kids,” Mihalik said. “We were able to get some easy ones in transition. The team played well.”
The Spartans (15-8) pulled within 16-9 on a three by Audrey Craffey and a layup from Marcie Colca with 5:43 to go in the second. That’s the final time they scored in the quarter. Kruszka scored six of Frontier’s 10 points to close the half – the final two via layup off of a steal.
The Falcons led by as much as 24 as the second half pretty much turned into a countdown to the champion’s postgame coronation ceremony.
Can Frontier keep the playoff run going?
“Just getting over this hump is tremendous,” Mihalik said. “Anything we can get after this is a bonus.”