By Mike Pidanick
Special to The News
After claiming the first Section VI championship in program history, Frontier came back to SUNY Buffalo State on Saturday afternoon looking to shock powerhouse Bishop Kearney and the high school girls basketball world.
It wasn’t meant to be.
As they’ve done to pretty much everyone on their path all season long, the Kings proved too powerful for the feisty Falcons and repeated as Class AA Far West Regional champions with an 81-45 win on Saturday at the Buffalo State sports arena.
“I thought we put up a good fight,” Frontier senior Kennedy Izzo said. “We came into the game being the underdogs. We came in hoping for a huge upset, but things didn’t go like we planned.”
Frontier came out ready and hung with the Section V champion Kings into the second quarter before Bishop Kearney proved to be too good.
Led by Izzo, the Falcons opened up an early five-point lead but the Kings scored eight straight to quickly take control of the game. In all, Bishop Kearney seized control of the game with a 33-5 first-half run and led by at least 17 throughout the second half.
“They’re just really good,” Frontier coach Rick Mihalik said. “In the first quarter, I thought we did a really good job with the game plan and trying to slow their guards down. But their role players stepped up and knocked a bunch of shots down. If they were going to beat us, we wanted them to beat us with their role players. That’s a credit to them and how good they really are.”
The Kings (22-1) won for the 12th straight game and moved to 7-0 on the season against Western New York teams — each win coming by double-figures, and that includes games against the likes of Monsignor Martin Athletic Association powers Cardinal O’Hara and St. Mary’s. BK’s lone loss this season came to Pittsburgh-area power Bishop Canevin.
And there’s just one senior on the Bishop Kearney roster.
Sophomore Marianna Freeman scored 21 points to lead four Kings in double figures. Senior Lytoya Baker added 20, sophomore Saniaa Wilson netted 15 and sophomore Emily Tytler 12 for Bishop Kearney.
Izzo led Frontier with 17 points. Senior Ami Canale and junior Claire Kruszka added nine for the Falcons.
The loss ended a dream season for Frontier, which reached the sectional title game for a third straight season and finally got over the hump with a 52-33 win over Williamsville North last Sunday evening.
“I think we had a great season,” Izzo said. “This is the best season we’ve had yet and it’s sad that it’s over.”
Frontier’s season ended at 20-4. Along with the first sectional title in team history, the Falcons also claimed an undefeated ECIC I championship.
“It was a tremendous season and it was awesome to be a part of it,” Mihalik said. “There were a lot of firsts this season. This is a tremendous atmosphere, great to be here. But that team is loaded.”
Bishop Kearney will play in the state semifinals at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College. The state final is the next day.