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TIGERS CRUSH LANCERS, ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS

Typically a team winning a basketball game by more than 50 points means the winning side performed very well.

For the most part, the third-ranked Amherst Tigers (17-4) did just that, eliminating the sixth-ranked Lew-Port Lancers (9-9) from the Section VI Class A-2 playoffs by a final score of 70-19. But Tigers coach Mike Chatelle knew better.

“It’s good to get that first win of the playoffs under our belts,” Chatelle said. “The score may not indicate it, but there’s still room for improvement and room to grow.

“We missed a ton of layups early, so we missed out on some points. Along with a few other things, to be honest, we were a bit sloppy at the beginning of the game. We know that, if we want to beat teams later in the postseason, we’re going to have to learn to finish those opportunities when they present themselves.”

Senior Claire Wanzer agreed.

“When you’re in the playoffs, anyone can catch fire and have a good day, so we can’t let stuff like that slip away,” Wanzer said. “Cutting off the baseline’s a big deal because every team in the postseason is athletic, like Lew-Port was tonight. Sometimes we let them get some easy shots, so we need to focus on little details like that. It can make all the difference at this time of year.”

From the opening tipoff, it seemed as if there would be no stopping the Tigers. The team went on a 21-point run early in the first half and never let up, eventually giving them a 36-4 halftime lead and allowing the Tigers to get any butterflies they had in their stomachs out of the way.

“Once you get a lead like that, it kind of gives you a chance to settle in,” Chatelle said. “I think with every playoff game, there’s always some nerves going through the players and the coaching staff given the situation at hand. Getting off on a start like that really helped us kind of settle down and focus on the task in front of us, so that was very important.”

From there on, Amherst went on cruise control, overseeing a second half in which they outscored the Lancers 34-15 and holding on for the win. Wanzer led the Tigers in scoring with 24 points and was the driving force behind her team’s offensive output, according to Chatelle.

“Claire’s been consistent for us all year and she showed that consistency again tonight,” Chatelle said. “She hit a bunch of threes and got some buckets near the post… she’s a pretty dynamic scorer and hopefully she can continue to do that for us for a few more games.”

The Tigers will take on Lake Shore next week in the semifinals, and Chatelle expects the matchup against the 20-1 Eagles to be a battle.

“We played against them in our season opener and lost by ten, so we know what kind of a team they are,” Chatelle said. “It’s going to be a tough, physical matchup, but I think we’ll be more than ready for the challenge.”

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