LOCKPORT- The reason coaches like to schedule non-league games over holiday breaks is because they provide their team a learning tool to prepare for the postseason in February. That was evident once again on Thursday afternoon as the Irondequoit Eagles (Section V) came out of Western New York with a 45-36 victory over the Lockport Lions after recording over 20 offensive rebounds and a 13-2 run to start the third quarter that built off a buzzer-beating hook shot from junior guard Megan Dano to trim Lockport’s lead to 21-20 at halftime. “We were fortunate to be down by one at halftime,” said Irondequoit head coach Scott Smith. “In the second half, I thought we regrouped. We tried some different things and we were effective doing them defensively, which led to our offense settling down a little bit.”
The first quarter felt like a chess match as both teams countered each other offensively. After Lions senior Kathryn Krchniak (team-high 16 points) made consecutive layups off of passes from fellow senior Sarah Kurbs to give her team a four-point lead, the Eagles responded with contributions in the paint from forwards Mimi Smith and Megan Dano to tie the game up at 10 apiece. In the second quarter, the back-and-forth pace continued. After baskets from Krchniak and fellow senior Jasmine Doxey to put the home team ahead, 15-10, the Eagles caused turnovers and converted them into layups. After Maria Marcera (9 points) tied the game up at 16 at the two-minute warning, Krchniak responded once again, this time with a jumper. The teams then exchanged free-throws before Lions point guard Carissa DiTullio found forward Liz Mullane with a no-look pass to put them ahead 21-18 before Dano’s buzzer-beater right in the middle of the Lockport defense.
From that moment, the momentum completely shifted in favor of the Eagles to start the second half. A three-pointer that bounced around the rim from senior Kara Cusker followed by layups from Smith and Marcera quickly extended Irondequoit’s lead to 33-23 with 2:23 left in the third quarter, eventually the largest lead of the game. Leading the spark in the second half was freshman point guard Alanah Paige, who finished with a team-high 10 points. Coach Smith had high praise for his youthful starter after the game. “She was a catalyst for us in the second half and helped us be more effective,” added Smith, whose team has consistently been one of the top teams in the Monroe County League II standings since he took over the program prior to the 2014-15 season.
While the Lions ended the third quarter on a 5-0 run to trim Irondequoit’s lead to 33-28, the Eagles picked things up once again as Paige went coast-to-coast for a layup and then knocked down a three-pointer in front of the Lockport crowd on consecutive possessions. The Lions had plenty of opportunities to make a second half surge but left too many opportunities at the free-throw line, just 6 of 16 on the day, and had a pair of turnovers in their own end late in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Eagles to wind down the clock.
In the victory, other notable contributors for the Eagles were Dano (7 points), Cusker (6 points) and Smith (5 points). Irondequoit (5-2, 2-0 in league play) will next hit the court to host Fairport High School on Jan. 3. For Lockport, Kurbs and Mullane added 5 points apiece and DiTullio and forward Miracle Douglass contributed 4 points apiece. The Lady Lions (4-3, 3-0 in Niagara Frontier League play) will resume their season with a road trip to visit the Lew-Port Lady Lancers on Jan. 3.