Freshman Lillian Hoyt (in this file photo against Livonia earlier this season) scored 11 in the Hornell victory Tuesday night. Photo by Steve Harrison.
By JOHN ANDERSON
The Hornell girls’ basketball team dropped three-of-four games and early season injury issues were compounded by late-season issues to the healthy players. On Tuesday night, the Red Raiders were facing the Class B2 #2 seed Livonia on the road, a team that beat Hornell 60-58 here in December.
With eight players heathy in the scorebook, Hornell picked a perfect night to show what a team effort is all about.
All eight players scored as Hornell picked up a 61-58 road win over Livonia to improve to 10-4 on the season.
Just as important, Hornell is back to the No. 3 seed in Class B1 for a day heading into sectionals. The No. 1 seed in the bracket is 14-0 Waterloo, the #2 ranked team in New York State at 14-0.
Jordyn Dyring will be in middle school classes today. But last night, the 8th-grader passed another high school exam, draining two free throws with 11 seconds left to secure the victory.
Hornell senior Jane Spitulnik had a double-double, scoring 19 points and tearing down 10 rebounds while freshman Lillian Hoyt had 11 points and 8th-grader Selena Maldonado had another solid all-around game with eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
“This was a huge win on the road. It was great to see the girls battle for 32 minutes … We could’ve let it get away,” Hornell coach Brian Dyring said. “To outscore them 37- 26 in the second half is a testament to the right in this group. It was a Total team effort with all eight able-bodied players contributing at some point in a major way. We still have two girls out, but hopefully we can get to full strength before the post season!”
Hornell hosts Wayland-Cohocton on Friday night, hosts Horseheads Saturday afternoon and will host Wellsville on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Wellsville 42, Dansville 41
Story by Chris Brooks (follow Chris on twitter at @iambrooksie and all sports and roundups at wellsvillesports.com)
WELLSVILLE — The Lady Lions of Wellsville are putting together as solid of basketball as anyone not only in Allegany County, but across the area. And it could not have come at a better time on the schedule with a short distance to go until the Sectional fever makes its arrival in two weeks.
The team has put together six straight wins, the majority of them have come with dominant showings, including big victories over both Canisteo-Greenwood and Hornell. Some of them on the other hand, have been gritty, like last Tuesday’s massive Class B2 collision against Bath-Haverling, where the Lady Lions overcame a first half deficit to rally back for victory.
It’s funny how history can repeat itself sometimes. One week later in another slugfest, the Lady Lions had to provide another gritty game, this time against another Class B2 titan in Dansville.
It was a battle that Wellsville found themselves having to dig and claw their way back from. After a second quarter that saw them lose the lead exponentially when the break approached. As a result, it prompted a conversation in the locker room between head coach Michelle Alvord and her squad.
The goal coming back out: Get back to doing what they do best — controlling the boards.
“We needed to hit the boards, and we needed to adjust defensively on their shooters in the corners,” she said. “When the ball was on the opposite, we wanted to stay home for the most part, and we wanted to be more aggressive. Jaelyn (Knapp) is a big rebounder, and she didn’t have a rebound in the first half, and that was a big thing coming back out for the second half.”
The game can be categorized as a tale of two halves for the Lady Lions. Although the deficit put on by the Lady Mustangs grew to as much as 12 at one point during the second half, it would never eclipse that point for the remainder of the game. At the same time, it would provide a chance for the hosts to fight back.
Did they ever.
After a string of possessions saw Wellsville account for a big scoreless run to pull slightly ahead of Dansville coming down the stretch, it would set up shop for some defensive fireworks in the last 90 seconds. In the last possession for each team, a crucial moment formulated, beginning with the Lady Lions defense committing a foul to set up the Lady Mustangs at the line, where they would take the lead after one of two made from the stripe.
Back down the court for the Lady Lions off advancement, the same would occur against Dansville to send them to the line. But this time, it was for all the marbles with under two seconds left. The spark plug that makes Wellsville’s engine go, Emily Costello, had just six points in the contest — two of them came at the very most important time.
From the line.
With no time removed off the clock, Costello absolutely nailed both of her free throws at the charity stripe to send the Lady Lions back ahead of Dansville, forcing a desperation shot at the end which did not go, allowing Wellsville to cap off a 12-point second half comeback to pick up their seventh straight victory by a 42-41 count in a thriller on Monday in the Lion’s Den.
“That was clutch what she did. She has the heart of a champion, and she stepped up to the line to hit those shots, and as a Senior, she absolutely nailed it,” Alvord praised Costello. “We talk about it all the time, she’s like a second coach out there, directing traffic with the girls. They didn’t get rattled, even during the timeout leading up to those shots. They did a stand-up job on defense to set it up, and the rest was on her.”
Before the endgame heroics by the Lady Lions (13-2) helped set up the win, they would have to do some digging through the first half. A half that was commandeered by the Lady Mustangs after trailing by a 13-9 count after the opening quarter.
Dansville stepped up to the plate and delivered a second quarter grand slam from way downtown to help set up a massive 13-2 run to end the half, 10 of those being scored consecutively led by a flurry of three-pointers, hitting three of them in a span of just over three minutes to take the lead away from Wellsville and build upon it going into the break.
At the same time, the Lady Lions could not cash in themselves on the opposite end of the floor.
“We were getting good looks, but we weren’t giving ourselves very many second chance opportunities, and we weren’t rebounding as well,” said Alvord. “The number one key was to control the boards, and when we did on defense, we were able to do some fast breaks and get some easy buckets. But early on, those easy buckets weren’t falling. We had to rebound, and it may sound super simple, but that was the bottom line.”
Sitting in an early hole going into the second half, and with the momentum that the Lady Mustangs held, the Lady Lions had to act quickly.
Although the deficit grew to as large as 12 during the third quarter at one point with more assistance coming from outside the arc again for the Lady Mustangs, the hosts in white and orange would not let it faze them, trimming the deficit to a reachable distance going into the last eight minutes, down by a 37-31 count.
The fourth quarter was the last chance for the Lady Lions to strike while they began to warm up at the end of the third, and Marley Adams would help that cause almost immediately by draining a triple that would engineer a run of the Lady Mustangs that reached nine straight to take the lead away by a 40-37 count.
But after a long three by Dansville tied the game once more at 40, it would remain as such through the last 90 seconds of the game, where the special teams play came at the most crucial point of the evening. The Lady Mustangs had their first crack and breaking the deadlock with one shot made out of two possible at the stripe to jump ahead.
That came with 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock.
After a timeout on the floor to force advancement on the way back down, the Lady Lions prepared to set up shop for what could have been a pass-and-shoot, but the Lady Mustangs defense committed a foul that allowed a chance to take the lead back with absolutely no time being removed from the clock.
Enter Emily Costello, who drained perhaps the two biggest shots at the charity stripe this season for the Lady Lions to give them back the lead for good, as Dansville’s last second attempt hit the rim and bounced to the floor to cap off a fantastic second half comeback.
“The plays that led to everything that happened in the end, Kaylee (Coleman) with the big rebounds, Emily had her hand in the mix, Marley with that big three-pointer, there’s no question that definitely propelled us,” Alvord said. “For as much as we were down, this team absolutely doesn’t quit. They kept after it, kept chipping away, talked to each other, helped each other and they were able to finish the job.”
Adams would lead another well-balanced effort on offense for Wellsville, netting a game-high 13 points to pair alongside with six rebounds and five assists. Jaelyn Knapp finished with eight points, while Costello and Makenna Dunbar each had six points, with Costello handing out seven assists in the process. Off the boards, Kaylee Coleman led that department with seven.
Prior to the Varsity contest, the Lady Lions succumbed to a 42-31 defeat to the hands of Dansville. Despite the loss, Averee Palmatier led the scoring for the hosts with 10 points.
The Lady Lions are now on the road for the next three games beginning on Wednesday before returning back home one last time in the regular season for Senior Night on February 15, as they visit the Portville Lady Panthers in a 7:30 p.m. battle to kick it off.
Alvord hopes the next three games will help her squad rise to the challenge, especially with Sectionals knocking on the door.
“Portville’s going to be a formidable opponent, and I’m glad we had this game against Dansville tonight,” she said. “Portville plays a similar style of basketball like them. They have a big girl inside, and the Welty girls from outside can do some damage. They have Seniors, and they’ve played with Inga (Welty) for a long time, but the last two games against Bath and now this one, we’ve faced man-to-man. I don’t expect this one on Wednesday to go any differently. It’s always an interesting trip over to Section VI, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the girls rise to the challenge.”
Dansville 9 13 15 4 – 41
Wellsville 13 2 16 11 – 42
DANSVILLE: Sidney Stone 1 0-0 2, Brielle Caruso 2 3-4 9, Aynley Belcher 4 1-10 10, Chelsie Tyler 3 0-0 9, Megan Tyler 2 0-0 6, Madison Lee 1 2-2 5. Totals: 13 6-16 41.
WELLSVILLE: Marley Adams 5 2-2 13, Emily Costello 2 2-2 6, Jaelyn Knapp 4 0-0 8, Emily Robbins 2 0-0 5, Kaylee Coleman 2 0-0 4, Makenna Dunbar 2 2-2 6. Totals: 17 6-6 42.
3-point goals: Dansville 9 (C. Tyler 3, Caruso 2, M. Tyler 2, Belcher, Lee), Wellsville 2 (Adams, Robbins).
Total Fouls: Dansville 16, Wellsville 14. Fouled out: Stone (DAN).