Weekly Feature

2018-01-03 / Sports

Girls basketball team wins two of last three

Sports Reporter

Arianna Carey puts up a quick shot over Grand Island’s Lydia Sweeney during Clarence’s 40-30 victory over the Lady Vikings in Thursday’s first round of Sacred Heart’s annual Art Dobson Girls Basketball Tournament. Carey finished the game with seven points. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Arianna Carey puts up a quick shot over Grand Island’s Lydia Sweeney during Clarence’s 40-30 victory over the Lady Vikings in Thursday’s first round of Sacred Heart’s annual Art Dobson Girls Basketball Tournament. Carey finished the game with seven points. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence’s girls basketball team bounced back from a tough loss in the Southern Tier on Dec. 18 to win two of its next three games, but defending its Art Dobson Girls Basketball Tournament title wasn’t in the cards this year as the Lady Red Devils were upended by the hosts, 83-42, in Friday’s championship game.

Clarence defeated the Sharks in last year’s final, 53-47, after falling to the hosts in the title game two years ago in the Lady Red Devils’ tournament debut, 63-42.


Heart was relentless once it smelled blood, keeping its press on the entire game and creating turnovers that turned into transition opportunities that helped fuel a 33-9 third-quarter run that all but sealed the decision. Clarence, which trailed 16-8 after the first quarter and 40-24 at the end of the first half, had very limited second-chance opportunities when it was able to run its half-court offense as the Sharks did all they could to limit the Lady Red Devils’ chances to snare offensive rebounds.

“I can’t even remember the last time someone scored 80 points on us, let alone 70 or even somewhere in the high 60s – but Sacred Heart is certainly good this year,” coach Erin Booker said. “Micaela Ryan was on fire for them in the third quarter, hitting three threes and scoring 17 of her 28 points there. We tried to take away their three-point shot and did well with that in the first half, limiting their two main threats to just one, but then by doing that we got hurt pretty badly in the paint. And their press forced us into some bad decisions too.”

All-Tournament Team selection Grace Barker, who was the JV tournament’s Most Outstanding Player last winter, made 5-of-6 shots to pace Clarence with 13 points. Fellow All-Tournament Team pick Ella Eckert added seven points and eight rebounds, while Carly Reynolds chipped in with seven points and three assists.

Clarence advanced to the title game for a third straight season by defeating Grand Island in the previous day’s opening round, 40-30. Grand Island made things tough for the Lady Red Devils early on, milking the shot clock on every possession in a bid to slow the game down – which pushed the Lady Vikings to a 9-4 lead after the first quarter.

The Lady Red Devils found their footing in the second quarter, though, using a 12-6 spurt to take a 16-15 lead into the second half. Clarence continued to surge ahead, increasing its lead to 28-22 by the end of the third frame despite a defensive effort that Booker wished had been more aggressive.

“We only had three steals for the game, so our defense wasn’t as aggressive as I would have liked it to have been,” Booker said. “It was just a slow game, and we’re a fast-paced team. We did do a nice job on the defensive boards, though, so we didn’t give them many second-chance opportunities.”

Eckert led the way for Clarence with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Megan McCraith added seven points and two rebounds, while Arianna Carey pitched in with seven points, three rebounds and two assists. Reynolds (9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) and Barker (2 rebounds) each added six points for Clarence.

The Lady Red Devils came into the tournament looking to do well after cruising to a 68-21 win over Williamsville North on Dec. 21, a win that helped erase the sting of their 57-40 loss in Jamestown three days earlier.

Clarence got out to a quick start against North, jumping out to a 17-8 first-quarter lead thanks to shots that fell and transition opportunities that arose from solid defensive play. The Lady Red Devils prevented North from recording a single field goal in the second quarter, allowing just four free throws during their 15-4 run that pushed their advantage to 32-11 at the half.

A similar 16-5 spurt in the third quarter all but put the game away for Clarence, which held a 48-16 advantage heading into the final stanza.

“Our defense was alive against North, our shots were falling … just a lot of good things happened,” Booker said. “Our aggressive defensive play really benefited our team last year, and that’s something we want to get back to. It certainly created some nice offensive opportunities for us against North and allowed us to push the ball down the floor well in transition and utilize our speed. The girls all definitely showed up to play.”

Eckert once again led the way for Clarence with 21 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Reynolds chipped in with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Claire Kiener added seven points, nine rebounds and two assists. Carey finished with six points, while Kayla Callahan contributed four points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

A tough stretch during the middle of the Jamestown game that included just three free throws as the only points of the second quarter, meanwhile, hurt the Lady Red Devils’ chances against the Lady Red Raiders. Clarence, which led 20-16 at the start of the second stanza, was ultimately outscored by a 24-8 margin over the second and third quarters, which pushed Jamestown out front by a 40-28 score heading into the final frame.

“We just missed a lot of shots in the paint like crazy,” Booker said. “It was quite amazing, actually, but not in a good way. We weren’t turning the ball over that much, but we just couldn’t finish. They really limited our second chance opportunities too. We’re all certainly eager to play them at our place because we didn’t show up to play down there.”

Reynolds guided Clarence’s effort with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Carey chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Eckert finished with nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Theresa Bienko added seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Lady Red Devils (3-3, 2-2 ECIC I), who return to action this evening against non-league foe Williamsville South before taking on Lancaster Friday in what Booker called “a huge league game for us.”

“Our non-league games have been difficult this year on purpose, and that was by design in order to make us stronger for divisional play,” Booker said. “We’ve just got to play with more confidence. We need to pass more effectively, be more aggressive on the boards and communicate on defense, which will hopefully lead to more steals. If we can do that, our defense should be able to fuel our offense quite nicely.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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