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Published: March 13, 2010 11:53 pm     

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Grand Island's run ends in Rochester

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

ROCHESTER Grand Island overcame nearly every obstacle in its way this winter. From season-ending injuries to a pair of devastating losses to Niagara Frontier League rival Lockport to the redefinition of roles within a young squad midway through the season.

The Vikings, though, couldn't overcome a case of cold shooting down the stretch during Saturday's Class A Far West Regional. GI mustered only 12 points over the final 12 minutes of a 62-53 overtime loss to Section V champion Greece Arcadia at the Gates Chili High School Fieldhouse.

The Vikings, who have never advanced past this round of the state playoffs, finish the season 17-6. Arcadia, which will play in the state semifinals on Friday at Hudson Valley Community College, improves to 21-2.

"Sure, it's disappointing ... but this group has a lot of heart and a lot of guts," GI coach Jen Banker said. "And to overcome all they have and ride this thing this far, going to overtime with one of the best teams in Rochester."

The game only went to overtime after the senior-laden Titans made a furious comeback. GI took its largest lead of the game, 44-37, a minute into the fourth quarter after a deep Kallie Banker 3-pointer.

Arcadia slowly began to chip away, though, eventually tying the game at 47 on a layup by Jessica Sexton with 2:48 remaining. On the next possession, the Titans took their first lead since early in the first quarter when Jori Semrau canned a 3-pointer.

Danielle Wegrzyn, who led GI with 17 points, calmly nailed a trey, her fourth of the game, on the Vikings' next possession to tie it at 50. Both teams had a chance to win it in regulation, including an Arcadia runner from Ashley Armstrong that rattled out as time expired.

Brooke DeMarco broke the ice in the extra session with a free throw, giving GI a 51-50 lead one minute in. The Titans, though, would score the next 10 points, including a 3-pointer from Melanie Antos and an off-balance jumper from Armstrong as the shot-clock buzzer expired.

The trey by Antos, who finished with 11 points off the bench, was the ninth of the game for Arcadia.

"That's hats off to them," Banker said of the Titans' long-distance success. "We purposely tried to take away the inside game, which I thought we did a nice job of for the most part."

Niagara signee Shy Britton, Arcadia's leading scorer and rebounder during the regular season, battled foul trouble and was held to just 12 points and seven rebounds. Sexton, another 6-footer, had a game-high 19 points in the win.

Defensively, DeMarco led GI with four steals. The junior also had eight rebounds. Cassie Oursler, a 6-foot-2 freshman, finished with 12 rebounds and three blocks to go along with her eight points. Senior Mary Scherrer had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Scherrer, Maria Guidotti and Kristin Wegrzyn (injured) are GI's lone seniors.

"Those three are great kids and we're really going to miss them," Banker said. "This year was really a work in progress, though, so hopefully we can take it forward now."

Guidotti added, "This was a huge accomplishment for us. It stinks being a senior, but it's good for the young girls. It gives them that drive to get back here and win. Having so many girls bask is good news for Grand Island girls basketball."