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McKinley Girls Holiday Tournament: Thunder Hawks and Macks Win Big


With two minutes left in the first half Tapestry Charter senior Nia Caver was defending the Middle Early College guard at center court. When the guard decided to try to make a pass over the head of the senior, Caver put the thunder in the Thunder Hawks as she jumped up and blocked the pass with such force that one might mistake it for actual thunder.

After capitalizing on the block, Caver lead the Tapestry Thunder Hawks (5-0, 5-3) in the first game of the Girls Basketball Harvey Austin Holiday Tournament to a 52-25 win over the Middle Early College Kats (0-2, 1-6).

Tapestry Head Coach Fran Snyder was proud of the way his team played and sees improvement every day from his young team, saying “We’re getting better and learning every game. We still have a long way to go. We have one senior who is one of the best players in Western New York and the rest of the team is mostly freshmen and sophomores.”

The Kats were within striking distance of Tapestry as they were down 17-9 at the end of the first quarter. Captain Kayla Samuel and classmate Barbara Roulhac played aggressive defense and gave Middle Early College chances on the offensive end of the floor.

However, as the game progressed the Thunder Hawks began to run away with it. Middle Early College was able to get the looks they wanted, but points were just hard to come by. Tapestry took a 27-13 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, Tapestry’s offense got into a better rhythm which helped them extend their lead to 44-16 at the end of the third quarter.

“In the first quarter, I thought we could stay with them”, Middle Early College Head Coach Debra Stanczyk said. “But our defense was non-existent today and we were not going to the ball on passes, that killed us.”

Caver lead the Thunder Hawks with 25 points, 14 rebounds, nine steals and seven assists in the win. As of Wednesday evening, Caver leads all of Section VI in assists and steals and is in the top five for points and rebounds so far, this season.

But Caver’s leadership extends far beyond the stat line. Caver has had to step up in a big way this season as she is the only senior on the team.

Her Head Coach made it clear after the game that she is has stepped up in a big way.

“She means everything, she’s just really does everything. These other girls are trying to learn around her”, Snyder said. “She’s a leader and brings everybody else up.”

“I don’t want it to be just about me, I want my teammates shine”, Caver said. “I try to push my teammates to do what they can do, so when the time comes they can shine.”

In the second game of the Harvey Austin Tournament, hosts McKinley Macks (2-1, 4-3) defeated the WNY Maritime Charter Commodores (1-5) 71-10 in large part due to aggressive defense.

After not scoring any points for the first two minutes of the game, the Macks offense got into a rhythm and lead 36-6 at halftime.

“I was talking to the girls that it doesn’t matter who were playing but we have to go out, be aggressive and play basketball”, McKinley Macks Head Coach Sara Torres said. “We came out on the slow side.”

Keeping the Macks in game was their half court trapping defense. Guards Victoria Wilson and Tatiana Cook were the ones often applying pressure to the ball handler and it was captain Jacinda Wilson who took advantage of bad passes turning them into steals.

Jacinda Wilson had seven points in the win. Cook ended the night with 21 points. Junior center Salandra Debose had a strong game from in the frontcourt scoring 14 points.

“We need to work a little more but we did pretty well today”, Jacinda Wilson said after the game.

“Jacinda goes out there, loves to steal and plays her game”, said Torres. “We really rely on her.”

It wasn’t the game WNY Maritime Charter was looking for but Head Coach Meghan Waterman knew there would be growing pains as the school’s girls basketball program comes back after the Commodores had not fielded a team since the 2013 season.

“Each game we can only work on improving ourselves we’re going to take what we learned here today, bring it to practice and hopefully improve on it”, Waterman said. “We have a young team every time we come out and play it’s a learning experience.”

Despite the big margin of victory, Torres found some things that the Macks need to work on, saying “The girls need to work on a couple more things, I proud that we were able to play the whole bench.”

The Harvey Austin Holiday Tournament wraps up with the consolation and championship games back at McKinley High School on Thursday. Middle Early College will face WNY Maritime Charter at 12pm in the consolation game. Hosts McKinley will face Tapestry immediately following for the Tournament championship.

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