Weekly Feature

2018-01-31 / Sports

Girls hoops team snuffs Lady Flames

Clarence’s girls basketball team didn’t have a chance to work on its free-throw shooting during practice Friday, but that didn’t stop the Lady Red Devils from going 20-of-26 from the foul line in Saturday’s 60-45 non-league conquest of Williamsville East.

Clarence was firing on multiple cylinders against the Lady Flames, collecting 18 steals as a team and making four three-point baskets on top of its free-throw prowess. All of those aspects came into play as the Lady Red Devils used a 19-12 run over the course of the second quarter to turn a 14-9 lead into a 33-21 halftime advantage. Ella Eckert, who finished the game 9-of-12 from the stripe to account for nearly half of her team-high 21 points on the day, went 7-of-9 from the foul line during the second quarter.

“Williamsville East is a good team and they were down a few players for the game, but we’ve been playing well as of late and we certainly wanted to keep that going,” coach Erin Booker said. “Every win is a good win, especially when it comes in a physical game like this one was.”

Clarence, which pushed its lead to 50-37 by the end of the third quarter behind seven points from Theresa Bienko, also received 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals from Carly Reynolds. Ari Carey chipped in with six points, while Eckert added 19 rebounds to her collection of points.

Bienko also had five rebounds and four steals for the Lady Red Devils, who were looking to do well against Williamsville East after having a chance to take down Orchard Park two days earlier dashed in the fourth quarter, 47-46.
Kayla Callaghan pushes the ball up the court during the Clarence girls basketball team’s 47-46 loss to Orchard Park Thursday. Callaghan finished the game with three rebounds and two assists. 
Photo by Chuck Skipper Kayla Callaghan pushes the ball up the court during the Clarence girls basketball team’s 47-46 loss to Orchard Park Thursday. Callaghan finished the game with three rebounds and two assists. Photo by Chuck Skipper

Clarence, which entered the final stanza on the wrong side of a 39-34 score, clawed its way back to take a one-point lead near the midpoint of the frame. Neither team was really able to establish any kind of advantage from that point on, though Orchard Park benefited from Eckert picking up her fifth foul of the game with about three minutes to play.

Even with Eckert on the bench down the stretch, the Lady Quakers weren’t able to put Clarence away until the final seconds. The Lady Red Devils missed on an opportunity with about 20 seconds to play, and after a tie-up gave the ball back to Clarence with just under two seconds to go in regulation, the Lady Red Devils were unable to get a good angle on a final shot after inbounding the ball.

“That was definitely our toughest loss of the season,” said Booker, whose squad rallied from a 15-9 first-quarter deficit to trail just 25-23 at halftime. “We lost to them by 21 — without Ella in the lineup — in our first game of the year, but we limited our turnovers against the press and we hit the board really hard. We had nothing to hang our heads about.”

Clarence, which did miss eight free throws over the course of the contest, was guided by Eckert’s 20 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and two assists. Reynolds added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Carey netted five points. Bienko chipped in with four points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, while Maddie Stearns contributed two points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists.

Claire Kiener helped hold the Lady Quakers’ Sam Fischer in check defensively after Eckert fouled out, but that wasn’t enough for the Lady Red Devils (7-6, 3-3 league), whose game at West Seneca West Monday ended too late for this edition.

Clarence closes out its week by traveling to Sweet Home this afternoon before hosting Jamestown Friday.

“With us still needing to play about half of our league games for the year over the next two and a half weeks, we definitely need to make the most of our opportunities this week,” Booker said. “We’ve just got to play with composure, especially where breaking the press is concerned. If we can do that, play better defense and use that defense to create our offense, we should be in good shape.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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