Win over South gives Lady Trojan cagers momentum for finale
West Seneca East’s girls basketball team will take some positive momentum going into tonight’s regular-season finale against crosstown rival West Seneca West, after beating Williamsville South in Monday’s divisional finale, 35-28.
East bounced back from South’s early 6-0 lead to trail just 8-6 going into the second quarter, and Bailee Gallivan returned the favor by nailing a pair of three-point baskets of her own in the second to help push East to a 19-16 halftime lead. South reclaimed the lead, 24-23, going into the fourth quarter of the back and forth affair, setting up essentially a winner-take-all final stanza.
East, which had gone cold over the final five minutes of the third quarter, rediscovered its offensive touch in the fourth en route to taking a 33-26 lead halfway through the fourth. Getting desperate, South started to rush offensively — which East was willing to allow, since the Lady Billies’ haste resulted in more misses and possessions with single chances than they might have otherwise garnered.
“We knew if we could run the clock out that we could hold on for the win,” coach Sam Gioia said. “We did a good job of rebounding and holding them to just one shot each possession once they started to pick up the tempo. They kind of mirrored us, so it was the perfect matchup for us.”
East, which went on to outscore South by a 12-4 margin in the fourth, was led by Gabby Lewis’s 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, while Gallivan finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Emily Piccone, who scored East’s final points on a pair of free throws, added four points and two assists. Erin Barrett scored three points but truly helped the Lady Trojans’ cause by pulling down 10 rebounds.
The win over South couldn’t have come at a better time for East, as the Lady Trojans found themselves in tough spots against Hamburg, Starpoint and Lake Shore in their three games leading up to South.
East actually played Hamburg fairly well in the first half of Friday’s 53-27 loss, trailing just 23-13 going into the third quarter. Hamburg eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter, though, to secure the win, using its depth to stymie East’s defensive efforts.
“It’s tough when you key in on one person, and then someone else starts hitting shots,” Gioia said. “All five of their starters can hurt you. And it’s not like we didn’t know going into the game that they had a strong lineup. In the end, we played one of our better games.”
Lewis led East with nine points and five rebounds, while Piccone added seven points, three steals and two assists. Barrett chipped in with five points, three steals and two assists.
East found itself in a similar situation three days earlier in its 48-34 loss to Starpoint. Trailing 24-15 going into the second half, East could only watch as Starpoint put up 15 third-quarter points to begin to separate itself from the Lady Spartans.
“We just kept trading baskets with them; we couldn’t cut into their lead when they kept matching us basket for basket,” Gioia said. “We actually matched up with them pretty well, but it wound up turning into a track meet and we just got tired in the end.”
Emily Barrett led the way for East with 10 points and four rebounds, while Erin Barrett (10 rebounds) scored all six of her points from the foul line. Gallivan also scored six points, while Piccone and Hannah Woltz chipped in with four points each.
February got off to a rocky start for East, though, when it fell to Lake Shore on February 2, 48-19. East trailed by just two points, 11-9, early in the second quarter, but the Lady Trojans went ice cold for nearly the next two quarters from that point on. For the last six minutes of the second quarter until the fourth quarter, East managed just one additional point, which helped Lake Shore take a 27-10 halftime lead that it would never relinquish.
“They took a timeout when we were within two early in the second quarter and it was looking like it would be a good game, but then they just left us behind,” Gioia said. “We just couldn’t make our shots, and that led to them getting some quick shots. We made just four baskets for the game, which didn’t help our cause.”
Erin Barrett led East with five points, while Emily Barrett chipped in by grabbing six rebounds.
East (2-15, 2-10 ECIC II) is hoping to cap its regular season with a solid performance in tonight’s Senior Night and Coaches vs. Cancer outing. Win or lose, Gioia believes West will provide a great test right before the playoffs begin next Tuesday.
“We’re going to focus on getting stops on defense and limiting second chances,” Gioia said. “West will be a great test for us right before the playoffs, and will be a fun game regardless.”