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Team Ball Fuels Warriors Win

By Dave Ricci

This was the definition of team ball.

Haley Schoelerman had 15 points and Alicia Farrell had 15 rebounds as the Tonawanda Lady Warriors beat Cleveland-Hill 47-40 in ECIC IV girls’ basketball action that was played at the George H. Miller Gymnasium, Thursday night.

With the victory the race for first place in ECIC IV tightens as Tonawanda (10-5 overall) improves to 7-2 in league, to keep pace with league-leading Cleveland-Hill (11-3) which is now 8-2 in league. And Holland remains in the mix as well.

Not only did the Warriors get a huge league win, the gained a measure of revenge against the Golden Eagles, who handily won the first meeting last month. Even more important is Tonawanda earned that victory by playing without question the most complete game they have played all season.

“In practice we work on defense and offense and make sure every detail in perfect,” said Schoelerman, “and it came together perfectly this game.”

Cleveland-Hill, led by its 1-2 punch of Sydney Turley (19 points) and Jayla James (15 points), took an early lead but it was a seemingly harmless 3-point shot by Tonawanda’s Hope Balling (11 points/five assists) that turned out to be pivotal as it tied the game at 5-5 and set the stage for the Lady Warriors to take a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the evening. Playing much better team ball with each game, this outing was a display of what the Lady Warriors are capable of doing when they are working as one unit.

Schoelerman and Farrell (eight points/four steals) were solid in the paint and their play was complimented perfectly by strong guard play from Balling, Taylor Hollock, Sydney Taylor and Ashley Adams.

Lady Warriors coach Jay Hall agreed that this was absolutely his team’s most complete outing this season. “It was definitely,” Hall said. “We executed the offense to perfection. We spread it out. We had (so) many cuts for layups.” One of the most explosive teams in ECIC, Cleveland-Hill didn’t fade without a fight as Turley single-handily went on an 8-0 run that cut the Warriors lead to 39-37 with about three minutes to play. Coach Hall called a time out to settle his girls down. It worked as the Warriors took care of the ball and didn’t fold under the pressure of the Eagles mounting comeback.

“When we called that time out after they scored to cut it, we came over to the bench and Haley said ‘hey, we worked too hard to blow this now so let’s go.'” Said Hall. “I said let’s go. We opened up a lead once and we can do it again.”

Hollock (seven rebounds) and Balling hit back-to-back shots to help Tonawanda go up 43-37 with 1:10 to play to secure the win. The game presented a challenge for Cleveland-Hill as it put them in the unusual position of having to battle from behind. Coach Kristen Wegrzyn said everyone felt the sting of a loss, but also believes that her girls have the character to learn how to deal with adversity.

“I think what you probably saw today was we weren’t making shots and that definitely got to us mentally,” Wegrzyn said. “I thought last week we got over those mental battles, going 4-for-4 (in games) and three extremely close games. Winning two by one point, but clearly we’re not there yet and that’s fine. It’s all a learning experience and I told them yes we took a loss today and it’s not fun, but we’re not out of it. Now we’ve just got to control our own destiny on Tuesday when we play Holland.”

Falling behind when they played the Eagles on their home court the Warriors came in knowing full well how tough Clev-Hill plays when they have the lead. So they knew it was imperative to build and maintain an early lead and put the Eagles in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch up.

“Coach Hall told us in the beginning to try to get the lead,” Schoelerman said. “We knew they were walking into this thinking that they were going to get an easy win, so it fueled us even more. It’s a major factor. I think we still had the last game in our heads so we were thinking we still had to climb out of the hole right away. So I think at the beginning we were thinking we were down by 10 and that really helped.”

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