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Hamburg, Williamsville South girls claim Class A titles in without-a-doubt fashion

The Section VI Class A-1 and A-2 girls basketball championship games each can be summed up with similar words.

Hamburg and Williamsville South both crushed the teams that stood between them and the titles by using defense to fuel lethal transition games.

Whether that makes for a fun game when the two champions meet for the overall Class A crown with a trip to the state tournament on the line will be determined starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Buffalo State.

Sunday at Buffalo State, fans watched Hamburg celebrate a championship for the first time since 2005 as it captured the A-1 crown by defeating Kenmore West, 64-37. Alayna Godios had 20 points and Clara Strack added 16.

“I was super nervous coming out here, but then looking at the end of the game, we were fine,” Bulldogs senior Tara Geary said. “We had nothing to be worried about. We were prepared for this. We knew what was coming. We scouted this team before and we were ready.”

Williamsville South junior and University of Connecticut-commit Amari DeBerry turned the Class A-2 final into personal highlight reel as the Billies crushed Grand Island, 68-36. The 6-foot-5 DeBerry scored a game-high 34 points and, although South didn’t have secondary stats compiled at the end of the game, she appeared to have more than 10 rebounds and close to 10 blocks.

It’s South seventh straight sectional title, but first in Class A-2 after years of being in Class A-1.

“It’s really special with this group of girls,” senior Hannah Dolan said. “We still have a lot to work on, but it’s a great accomplishment.”

Hamburg dialed it up from the second quarter through most of the third quarter as it turned a 17-13 lead into 29-20 advantage at intermission. The Bulldogs’ lead grew as they held Ken West scoreless for the first 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the third quarter and outscored West 17-3 in the third.

Godios and Strack combined for 22 of Hamburg’s 32 points in the middle quarters as the defense forced the Blue Devils into mistakes.

“We knew we had to step up on defense to pull away," Godios said. "We knew we were better than them. We just had to do what we had to do.”

Ashley Tucker had the most success getting her shot to drop for Ken West as she finished with a game-high 29 points. She scored all 11 of the Devils’ points in the first quarter and had 17 at halftime.

In Class A-2, Williamsville South wasted little time seizing control. It’s defense created points in transition. The Billies’ halfcourt offense executed with precision.

South scored the first 12 points of the game and carried a 21-6 lead into the second quarter. DeBerry had 10 of those points, while Gretchen Dolan had nine.

The lead grew to 26-6 just 57 seconds later. Though the Billies hit a bit of a lull, they never lost control.

DeBerry was pretty much unstoppable. Even her few misses Sunday looked like they were going to be good until stubbornly rimming out. She finished with 15 field goals and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

“It was a team effort. We came in with a very positive mindset,” DeBerry said. “We really focused on the little things, so if everybody just does their job and focuses on the small things as a whole, everything comes together.”

Dolan finished with 13 points while Ava Urbaniak added 11 for the Billies. South suffered a scare when senior Hannah Dolan took a hard tumble to the floor near the first row of the arena seating. She hobbled off under her own power, but had been nursing a hip ailment prior to the start of the playoffs.

Lydia Sweeney finished with 14 points for Grand Island.

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