Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Sports

Victory over JFK highlights otherwise tough week for Tonawanda girls hoops


An above-average night shooting the ball proved to be the difference between victory and defeat for Tonawanda’s girls basketball team Wednesday night, as the Lady Warriors took down JFK , 35-30, in one of their final ECIC IV battles of the regular season.

Tonawanda, which connected on just under 40 percent of its three-point shots for the game, opened the contest making three trifectas in the opening stanza to shoot out to an 11-3 lead. Taylor Hollock, who finished the game with four three-point baskets, made half of them in the first quarter to help spur Tonawanda’s strong start.

The Lady Warriors, who saw their lead trimmed to 16-11 by halftime, pushed their advantage back up to double digits by the end of the third quarter before needing to hold off JFK’s late surge. Tonawanda, which normally connects on at least 40 percent of its foul shots for the game, could’ve helped its cause from the charity stripe but instead made just 2-of-17 of its chances on the day.

The only two makes of the game came during a 2-of-8 stretch in the fourth quarter.

“It was definitely a better shooting game for us except for from the free-throw line,” coach Jay Hall said. “Our performance at the free-throw line definitely helped make the game closer than it should’ve been. If we would have hit our normal amount of free throws, we would’ve won by double figures. But, it felt good to win regardless of how we did it. Hopefully we can do a better job in the rematch Friday as we continue our preparation for the playoffs.”

Hollock finished the game with 14 points, four steals, three rebounds and a block to lead Tonawanda. Sam Farrell had eight points and three steals to go along with her career-high 21 rebounds, while Hope Balling finished with six points, four steals and three rebounds for the Lady Warriors, whose struggles at the offensive end of the floor on both Jan. 29 against Depew and Friday against Holland led to a pair of losses.

A tough start against Depew – the Lady Wildcats’ seventh grader, Kaylee Krysztof, scored 11 of her game-high 26 points in the opening frame – put Tonawanda in a 14-2 hole right off the bat that proved tough to overcome. Tonawanda managed to close out the final three quarters with a 34-31 advantage in the score sheet, but making just 5-of-22 shots from the three-point line and 8-of-36 shots overall didn’t do the Lady Warriors any favors.

“We really didn’t do well defensively against their seventh grader; she’s small, but she was unstoppable last Monday,” Hall said. “And only scoring two points in the first quarter didn’t help. The disappointing part is that it wasn’t because they did anything special defensively. We just didn’t score against them.”

Hollock, who made all of Tonawanda’s three-point baskets for the game, led the way for the Lady Warriors with 17 points, four rebounds and two steals. Farrell chipped in with 12 points, five steals, two rebounds and two assists, while both Alexis Cheney (4 points, 3 assists, 1 block) and Kristen Toth each pulled down five rebounds. Balling chipped in with two points, five assists, five steals and three rebounds.

The second quarter – more specifically, the final 30 seconds of it – proved to be Tonawanda’s downfall against Holland later in the week, as the Lady Warriors saw Holland turn some turnovers into points, which allowed the Lady Dutchmen to turn what had been just a two-point lead into a 28-18 advantage at the half.

Tonawanda played Holland fairly close the rest of the contest, losing each of the second-half quarters by a single point, which made how it closed out the first half all the more disappointing.

“We really didn’t do that bad against Holland other than the final 30 seconds of the first half,” Hall said. “Other than that little stretch, I was really pleased with the way we played defensively. To their credit, their big girl inside hurt us; she made some big moves and some big shots.”

Tonawanda, which went 7-of-9 from the foul line but connected on just 39 percent of its field goal attempts, was led by Farrell’s 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hollock finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals, while Balling added five points, six rebounds and three assists.

Toth and Cheney (5 rebounds, 3 steals) each contributed four points for the Lady Warriors (6-10, 5-5 division), whose game against Cleveland Hill Monday ended too late for this edition.

The Lady Warriors are slated to close out their week at Alden Thursday and against JFK Friday before finishing off the regular season Tuesday against Eden.

“We’ve just got to keep working at what we’ve been trying to do all year, and that’s to play great defense and find our shooting touch,” Hall said. “We’ve been doing a lot of shooting drills in practice, so if we can do those things then hopefully we can surprise some teams in the playoffs.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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