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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Fredonia knocks off top-seeded Newfane

There were screams of joy coming out of the Fredonia locker room after the Section VI Class B-1 semifinal girls’ basketball game against Newfane.

Was it the big win over the Panthers? Not really.

“They’re excited about no school tomorrow, and I’m panicking about practice,” coach Carol Zirkle said over the din.

That’s not to say that the Hillbillies weren’t happy about their 46-32 win to advance to the championship game on Sunday, because they were. It was an impressive performance against a team that had a 20-1 record entering the contest and was ranked third among small schools in Western New York. Newfane was the top seed in the bracket while Fredonia (11-12) was No. 5, but that doesn’t matter at all now.

“At times we played incredible, but we still have things to work on,” Zirkle said. “There were letdowns that we had. We have to play consistently for 32 minutes.

“But most of the time I was very happy with how we played. I thought different people stepped up at different times. A’Cetta Farriat did an incredible job of boxing out. Katie Price had 10 rebounds and 20 points. I’m really pleased with the rebounding we did.”

Fredonia figured to be a difficult opponent for anyone in the class this season. The Hillbillies earned plenty of postseason experience a year ago when they reached the final four of the state tournament. Fredonia also played as many good teams as possible this season in an attempt to be ready for March.

“We did not have easy games this year,” Zirkle said. “Every night we had to perform. We learned to perform against some of the best players in Western New York. We had to do it time and time again. These kids have to step up to roles they didn’t have last year.

“We went 0-8 nonleague and played against six schools that were ranked in New York State. We’ve seen the best of the best, and that helps you prepare.”

Newfane coach Kevin Klumpp added, “I kept on telling people that I had no idea how good they are. They’ve been inconsistent; they play in a different league.”

This game looked like it had a chance to have a great finish. Fredonia jumped out in front early, scoring nine of the contest’s first 11 points. The Hillbillies were up, 15-7, after a period. Newfane crawled back a bit to cut the margin to 18-15 at halftime.

In the middle of the third quarter, Paige Emborsky went to work. With Fredonia up, 22-17, she scored on a drive, hit a three-pointer and added two lay-ups. Single-handedly, Emborsky – who finished with 16 points – gave the Panthers their first lead at 26-22.

Fredonia responded magnificently by scoring the game’s next 18 points.

“Did we really? I had no idea,” Zirkle said. “Different people during that run stepped up. It’s not on one person’s shoulders.”

“The lid went back on,” Klumpp said. “That happens. We didn’t run our sets well enough. You have to credit them.”

Newfane couldn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way, and its once-magical season had ended abruptly.

“We were 20-2,” Klumpp said. “We played a great schedule. They got challenged during the year. Couldn’t ask for anything more. I thought we’d be 15-5. We played well together throughout the year – just not tonight.”

Meanwhile, Fredonia moves on to play, of all teams, neighboring Dunkirk. Starting time will be noon.

“It would have been nice to play at Fredonia State, two miles from each of our schools,” Zirkle said. “But it will be nice to be back in the Sectional finals, and exciting. It was a big rivalry to begin with, and this is a huge game.”

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