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Published: February 27, 2010 11:31 pm

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings overcome all obstacles

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

LOCKPORT — Nothing can phase these Vikings. Not foul trouble to their starting forwards. Not season-ending injuries to senior Kristin Wegrzyn and junior Jamie Raepple. Not even a tweak in reigning Niagara Gazette Player of the Year Kallie Banker’s back.

Grand Island, the second seed, used a dominating third quarter and a balanced scoring effort to top Niagara Frontier League rival and third-seeded Kenmore East 46-41 in the Class A-1 semifinals Saturday at Lockport High School. GI will play No. 1 Williamsville East for the championship at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Erie Community College’s Flickinger Center.

“I’m very proud of this team for overcoming everything we’ve endured,” Vikings coach Jen Banker said. “They just keep falling forward.”

For instance the third quarter when Mary Scherrer and Cassie Oursler were back on the floor after sitting out large portions of the first half with foul trouble. The inside duo controlled the glass and allowed GI to get out on the fast break. The Vikings began the quarter on a 15-3 run that gave them a 36-35 lead.

Joelle Pollak wouldn’t let East go away, though. The senior, who holds the mark for most points in school history (boy or girl), kept hitting clutch jumper after another. She pulled the Bulldogs within two on a pair of occasions, but also missed a pair of critical front ends to 1-in-1 free-throw situations in the final minutes.

“She’s such a great player that can make it from anywhere on the floor,” Banker said of Pollak, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “It’s not over until the final buzzer when she’s out there.”

Brooke DeMarco was the leading scorer for GI with 14 points, but Kallie Banker added 11 despite back troubles and Oursler finished with 10 points and a game-high 19 rebounds.

“This feels great, especially because we really worked as a team and did it together,” DeMarco said. “Everybody was in a rhythm today. It was a team effort.”

1-Will. East 57, 5-Starpoint 51

The Flames, led by former longtime Wilson coach Larry Lash, went on a 12-0 run late in the fourth quarter to put away the pesky Lady Spartans in the other Class A-1 semifinals at LHS. Bailey Weigel led East with 18 points, while Becca Rumschik added 12 in the win.

Starpoint was led by Ashley Wallace’s 22 points. Natalie Whitman added 14 in the loss. She is one of four seniors that will be missed by coach Shanna Klumpp.

“My girls played their hearts out,” the coach said, referencing a pair of lopsided losses to the Flames during ECIC II play. “They left everything they had out on the floor. It was just those last couple minutes where we had the opportunities and didn’t convert and they made some big shots.”