Wellsville coach Michelle Alvord with seniors Sara Reitz, left, and Emily Robbins, right.
PHOTO GALLERY and story by CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com
WELLSVILLE — Senior Night. For outgoing student-athletes, it was one of the very last chances on their home floor to finish off a memorable career while donning the colors they’ve come to know.
For Emily Robbins and Sara Reitz, it was their turn to capture the limelight when the Lady Rebels of Cuba-Rushford came to town for Saturday night’s lone battle on the hardwood.
The night began when Lady Lions coach Michelle Alvord honored all seven of Cuba-Rushford’s seniors, one-by-one, by presenting each of them with a flower. Then, Alvord presented flowers and gifts for both of her seniors, who were joined alongside their families, for all of the contributions they have made during their time with the girls basketball program.
The longtime Lady Lions coach said that they are two seniors that all the younger kids look up to.
“Obviously, both of them have been in our program over the years. Emily brings a lot of energy and fun to this team, and she looked up to some of the older kids that she’s played with. Now some of the younger kids look up to her,” she said. “She gives her heart and soul for this game. With Sara, it’s the same thing. She’s a great kid, and basketball’s been her sport for six years. She even coaches a team at the YMCA. Both girls have given a lot to our program, and we will miss them.”
The Lady Lions wanted to make sure they gave their two leaders the send-off they deserved. What better way to do that, than with their 10th win of the season.
It would begin right in the first quarter of play, where they set the tone after an early trade of scores in the first moments of the battle, scoring a 19-8 run to help establish an offensive game that saw Natalie Adams record one of her best nights of the season, as well as a multitude of opportunities stemming off the glass in their 63-40 victory in the Lion’s Den.
“Everyone scored in that first quarter to get us going,” Alvord said. “Emily had a great overall game, and Sara kept her hot streak going, but it was Natalie that dominated both ends of the floor tonight. Defensively, we really allowed them to help create our offense, which we need to do more of, especially with the stretch that we have coming up to end the season.”
After a pair of opening baskets between Robbins and Taylor Searle started the game off for their respective teams, Wellsville (10-8) accounted for 16 of the next 20 points, including nine straight towards the end of the frame before the Lady Rebels ended the drought with a long three from beyond the arc from Shae Maples — her first of two.
But then in the second, the Lady Lions broke loose with Natalie Adams finding her groove to lead another charge on offense, capitalizing on multiple second chance opportunities against the Cuba-Rushford (9-8) defense to accumulate eight of the first 10 points in the frame.
The visitors in gray and blue would chip away at their deficit down the line, with Searle and Maples helping the cause with baskets from inside, and out respectively, but Wellsville would remain in firm control of their destiny with a 38-22 lead into the break, thanks to a pair of 19-point quarters.
The Lady Lions would go on to solidify their victory with a 17-point third quarter upon their return to the court, branching their lead out to as much as 20 to pull away and out of the reach of the Lady Rebels.
Adams led all scorers on the floor with one of her best nights of the season, compiling a game-high 21 points to pair with five steals and three assists. Averee Palmatier pitched in with 13 points and six rebounds. Makenna Dunbar was the third to crack the 10-point plateau with 10 points on the nose, pairing them with six rebounds of her own.
Adding special teams help along the way was Lindsay Stuck, who led the hosts in white and orange with eight rebounds. Emily Robbins had seven more to grab off the glass.
Cuba-Rushford was paced by a 16-point evening from Taylor Searle. Maples finished with 12 points, while Emma Retz had six points.
Prior to the Varsity battle, the Lady Lions JV squad took care of business with a 57-23 win over the Lady Rebels. Leading the scoring was Caelyn Stevens, with 14 points. Jaden Dunbar had 12 points, while Ayla Faulkner had eight.
Up next is another home battle back inside the Den, as the Lady Lions prepare to welcome in the Bath-Haverling Lady Rams on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Cuba-Rushford 8 14 10 8 – 40
Wellsville 19 19 17 8 – 63
CUBA-RUSHFORD: Shae Maples 5 0-2 12, Emma Retz 2 2-2 6, Brynn Lavery 2 0-0 4, Aleah Demick 1 0-0 2, Taylor Searle 6 4-7 16. Totals: 16 6-11 40.
WELLSVILLE: Lindsay Stuck 1 0-2 2, Natalie Adams 8 0-0 21, Edahlia Sebastian 1 0-0 3, Emily Robbins 2 4-5 8, Sara Reitz 2 0-0 6, Averee Palmatier 6 1-2 13, Makenna Dunbar 4 2-2 10. Totals: 24 7-11 63.
3-point goals: C-R 2 (Maples), Wellsville 8 (Adams 5, Reitz 2, Sebastian).
Total Fouls: C-R 12, Wellsville 11. Fouled out: None.