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Hornell downs perennial-power Wellsville to reach finals again, face Dansville for Section V title

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Three times has to be a charm for the Hornell girls to repeat as Section V champions.

After improving to 20-3 with a 71-61 victory over No. 5 Wellsville in Section V Class B semifinal action Wednesday night in Honeoye Falls, Hornell will take on Dansville for the block.

Hornell, the No. 1 seed in the stacked Class B bracket, beat Dansville 75-51 and 60-45 this year.

The championship game is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Finger Lakes CC.

Freshman Raegan Evingham had a tremendous defensive and rebounding game to help Hornell beat Wellsville in the Barkley Showcase in January.

Wellsville coach Michelle Alvord, who has made a career of knocking off #1 seeds in the semi-finals, had a great game-plan it appeared to stop sophomore Jordyn Dyring from scoring and beating them.

The NY Landquest team are big fans!!!

After all, Hornell beat Wellsville by 22 in January. Alvord had the plan, as Hornell won by 10 this time, but Hornell showed why they didn’t fall victim to the patented Wellsville spoiler alert with scoring from other players.

Evingham this time led Hornell with a team-high 23 points a d five 3-pointers.

The name of the game all season long for the Hornell Lady Red Raiders has been to fire on all cylinders.

Along with a stout defense, the three-point game possessed by one of the State’s top ranked schools in Class B is nothing short of extraordinary. Because of it, the defending Section V champions carved another warpath in front of them from the start of the regular season to its end.

Although the Lady Lions turned the heat up multiple times on the Lady Red Raiders in the fourth quarter, led by an outstanding performance from Makenna Dunbar down low, the early deficit created by Hornell would ultimately prove to be too much to overcome at the end of the night.

“They knocked down everything they could, especially from three,” said Lady Lions coach Michelle Alvord. “That first quarter helped them set everything up, but I was proud of how we played with heart in the fourth quarter to make a game out of it. We know that they are a potent, high-energy offense. They didn’t have an answer for Makenna inside most of the night. She’s been really consistent, especially at this stage in the game when we need her the most. To see her put the night she had together, was great.”

Hornell’s offensive explosion detonated in the first eight minutes of play against the Lady Lions. With the aid of Raegan Evingham and her monster 23-point performance leading the way, the Lady Red Raiders were able to set a massive tone to open the game, posting a 29-point first quarter to create a lead that was never relinquished across the Semifinal fight.

“We had a great start to the game tonight,” Hornell coach Jim Dagon said. “We got stops that led to easy transition buckets that helped get us going. Raegan Evingham was a beast for us tonight, she was scoring from everywhere, distributing the ball extremely well, and she did a great job on the boards too. Lillian Hoyt got hot and ended up hitting five threes for us which spread the defense out to deal with her range which really opened things up for us. Those two led the way offensively for us, each of them scoring in bunches that helped us hold on to the lead that we established in the first quarter.”

As the Lady Red Raiders continued to build more and more onto their lead entering the last eight minutes of play, the Lady Lions fought back and produced one final stand in the shape of a 22-point fourth quarter to apply a late burst of pressure on the State-ranked powerhouses, cutting the deficit down to 10 points.

But when it was all said and done, the advantage remained well intact for Hornell to finish off the battle against their archrivals from the west, and move on to the Finals, where they will put their championship on the line this weekend.

Dagon was impressed with his team’s defensive effort and unselfish play.

“Our defensive intensity and our unselfishness on offense really stood out tonight,” Dagon said. “The girls made the game beautiful to watch. Selena Maldonado ran the show for us on both ends of the floor. She made great decisions and set her teammates up to be successful all night long. She makes everything easier for her teammates and she’s a match-up nightmare. Jordyn Dyring also played phenomenal defense and grabbed a ton of rebounds.

“Jordyn tends to draw a lot of attention on the offensive end and she responds by making incredible passes and making tough baskets. I’ve been very happy with her mentality throughout the tournament so far. Payton Bentley gave us every ounce of energy she had while dealing with an illness,” Dagon continued. “The toughness she brings inspires her teammates and that was very valuable for us. With Payton feeling under the weather, our senior Kadience Gollnitz stepped into big minutes and did an awesome job. She played awesome defense and ripped down a ton of offensive rebounds that gave us extra opportunities to score. Mia Nasca also stepped up and played more minutes than normal and was extremely solid for us. She played great defense, had lots of assists, and she made some extremely smart plays (something we have been emphasizing in practice.”

FInishing behind Evingham’s team-leading 23 points for Hornell, were three more scorers that eclipsed double figures for the game. Among them was Lillian Hoyt, who was red hot from the parking lot all game long, knocking down five of the team’s 11 triples to put towards a 17-point effort. Selena Maldonado chipped in with 11 points, while Jordyn Dyring had 10.

For Wellsville, Makenna Dunbar was unstoppable inside the paint on the attack, as she registered one of her best performances of the season behind a game-high 25-points to go along with nine rebounds off the glass. Caelyn Stevens (five rebounds) and Natalie Adams each had nine points to chip in, while Jaden Dunbar had five to go with five rebounds.

Adding more special teams help was Averee Palmatier, who grabbed eight more boards.

The 2023-24 season for the Lady Lions of Wellsville is now officially over, as they wrap up the campaign with a record of 14-8 overall. The team will return every single player, as they look to flip the calendar over and do it all again come next winter. For Alvord, it’s a bright sign of big things to come.

“I think we have grown so much at every level, so it makes me super excited for the offseason and the summer league ahead,” she said. “It’s a great group of kids that love to work hard, and the JV kids put in some hard work too to give us that extra boost. Hornell will be back here again next year, and I hope that we can come back right with them and give them another run. I’m already looking forward to what we can do next winter.”

Wellsville 13 14 12 22 – 61

Hornell 29 15 17 11 – 71

WELLSVILLE: Caelyn Stevens 4 1-2 9, Natalie Adams 4 1-2 9, Alexa Hennessy 1 0-0 2, Emily Stuck 1 1-2 3, Averee Palmatier 2 0-0 4, Makenna Dunbar 11 1-3 25, Jaden Dunbar 2 1-2 5, Hailey Cowburn 1 0-0 3, Lydia Kaye 0 1-2 1. Totals: 26 6-13 61.
HORNELL: Mia Nasca 1 2-2 4, Jordyn Dyring 5 0-0 10, Lillian Hoyt 6 0-0 17, Payton Bentley 2 0-0 6, Selena Maldonado 5 0-0 11, Raegan Evingham 9 2-2 23, Kaidence Gollnitz 0 0-2 0. Totals: 28 4-6 71.

3-point goals: Wellsville 3 (M. Dunbar 2, Cowburn), Hornell 11 (Hoyt 5, Evingham 3, Bentley 2, Maldonado).
Total Fouls: Wellsville 4, Hornell 11. Fouled out: None.

Game photo courtesy Lindsey Meys Photography.

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