Hello from Daemen College's Charles L. & Gloria B. Lumsden Gymnasium, home of the Pastor-Coooper Memorial Championships, albeit two days later than scheduled.
Friday's tripleheader became Sunday's tripleheader due to snow-aided school cancellations last week.
In today's first game, St. Mary's takes on Grand Island in the girls championship. It's followed by the Al Pastor Division final between McKinley and Orchard Park, and the Jerry Cooper Division final betwen Yale Cup rivals East and OTC Middle College.
12:20 p.m. After the first quarter of the girls championship, St. Mary's leads Grand Island, 11-10. St. Mary's has executed well on offense and has forced some turnovers with some pressure in the GI backcourt. The Vikings got some nice work inside from big sophomore Cassie Oursler and some baseline swishes from Brooke DeMarco.
12:33 p.m. Danielle Wegrzyn hits a three-pointer from the left side in the final seconds -- answering a nice fast-break finish by Shannon Moody for St. Mary's -- to give Grand Island a 20-18 lead over the Lancers at halftime.
12:52 p.m. St. Mary's coach Keith Junik calls a timeout with 3:19 left in the third quarter and Grand Island having taken a 34-23 lead.
1 p.m. After three quarters, Grand Island has a 42-31 lead on St. Mary's. The Vikings displayed a nice well-rounded game in the third. Ousler has been big in the middle as a nice defensive presence with some blocks while she has been in the right spot at the right time (as she has all game) with some putbacks. Kallie Banker hit a three-pointer, Danielle Wegrzyn hit a three and a jumper, Megan Karpie finished a fast break and hit two jumpers.
1:09 p.m. A nice fast-break finish by Karpie off a steal by Wegryzn gives Grand Island a 46-33 lead with 4:17 left.
1:19 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Grand Island 52, St. Mary's 35.
Time for interviews for me.
1:28 p.m. A very nice, well-balanced performance by the Vikings, with senior Danielle Wegrzyn earning MVP honors with 11 points, including three three-pointers. Oursler had 15 and Karpie added 12; DeMarco had eight and Kallie Banker had six.
KC Sokolski led St. Mary's with 11 points while Raeann Stilwell had 10.
I don't cover a whole lot of girls games, but I know beating St. Mary's in such a well-balanced way is worth noting. The last girls game I covered was at the Federation tournament as the Lancers fell in the final, and they had a lot of talent back. With Stilwell and guard Victoria Fontana returning and a well-balalnced lineup themselves, St. Mary's should have a successful year.
I liked the gritty play of senior Maria Rosati, who played very tough defense and had some very nice passes on the offensive end -- she is one of those 'glue' players that does several things for a team. (She also gets the cool hi-tops/socks award, with some old school Nikes and orange laces along with multicolor socks. I don't go fashion plating on here often, but that was worth a shoutout.)
The Al Pastor Sportsmanship Award for the girls went to Grand Island senior Jessica Yarnes. That award is an important part of this event, which was started by Pastor and then renamed in his honor.
1:41 p.m. McKinley and Orchard Park are warming up and there is about a minute left counting down on the scoreboard.
1:45 p.m. We've tipped off with the Al Pastor final between McKinley and Orchard Park.
1:58 p.m. After the first quarter, Orchard Park has a 12-9 lead on McKinley. The Macks came out with a strong start to go up, 7-2, causing turnovers with its usual frenetic defense. OP, as it did the other night against Grover, is playing very smart and is knocking down shots. One great inside-outside series had Zach Schenk nailing a three for OP.
2:17 p.m. At halftime, Orchard Park leads McKinley, 25-19. Kyle Witkowski hit two three-pointers in the quarter to keep OP a step ahead of the Macks, who missed several easy shots inside. More of the same from the Quakers, who I saw beat Grover last Monday in the first round. They play smart and Witkowski nails threes.
Now it's time for the famous chicken wing-eating contest thanks to longtime tournament sponsor Santora's Pizza.
2:36 p.m. A OP cals a timeout with 3:57 left in the third after McKinley scored two straight baskets to cut the OP lead to 25-24. Not the prettiest quarter in the history of basketball.
2:39 p.m. Another timeout for OP with 2:41 left in the third as McKinley has taken a 28-25 lead thanks to two straight baskets by Dajuan Rutledge, an inside basket off a pass from Demmis James and a layup off his own steal. Still no points for OP in the quarter.
2:46 p.m. After three quarters, McKinley leads Orchard Park, 32-28. OP found its footing late in the quarter with some late baskets. An Avery layup and a James finish off a breakout Rutledge helped with a one-handed give-ahead gave the Macks a 32-25 lead last in the quarter.
2:55 p.m. We have a timeout with 4:28 left and McKinley up, 39-33. Anthony Sanders is at the line to attempt the second of two free throws.
3:03 p.m. Nice close by McKinley, which is up, 44-36, with 1:18 to play. Some nice passing by the Macks on the offensive end to get some easy baskets and their defense has been tough, as it's been the entire second half. OP has definitely been cold from the field and has missed some easy ones, but you have to credit the Mack defense.
3:08 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 48, Orchard Park 39.
Off to get the stats and some interviews.
3:20 p.m. Antonio Avery earned MVP honors -- he was the Macks' leading scorer in their first-round game, and he had eight points today. Rutledge led the team with 12, including several in the pivotal second half, while John Black had 10 and Anthony Sanders had nine.
Witkowski led OP with 11 points while Matt McCormick had 10 for Orchard Park.
3:27 p.m. We have about a minute left on the scoreboard before East battles OTC Middle College.
* * *
3:32 p.m. We have tipped off with the Jerry Cooper Division title game.
3:50 p.m. After the first quarter, East has a 17-10 lead on OTC. East got off to an 11-2 start. Davon Alexander, the lone returning starter from last year's state championship team, did not start the game for OTC but came in later in the first quarter.
4 p.m. A great second quarter for OTC, which has taken a 25-22 lead with 3:44 left in the second quarter and prompted a timeout by East coach Starling Bryant.
4:14 p.m. We are at halftime with OTC taking a 39-29 lead after a really strong second quarter. Middle College has been great on the break, Alexander has been a great presence and they've had quick hands on defense. Great energy as well. Quite a turnaround from one quarter to the next.
4:36 p.m. This game has been fun. East has turned up the energy and the defense and has regained the lead. A three-pointer by senior Andre Jackson -- his second of the quarter -- has given East a 48-45 lead with less than two minutes left in the third. Tremmell Fisher also has two threes here in the third. What a turnaround followed by another turnaround.
4:44 p.m. East kept charging through the rest of the quarter with Jackson and Fisher each adding another three -- Fisher hit one at the third-quarter buzzer to put East up, 56-47, heading to the fourth.
4:54 p.m. The back-and-forth quarter stuff continues. East has called a timeout with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter with Middle College having cut the East lead to 59-57.
5:10 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 73, OTC Middle College 63.
Interview and stats time.
5:20 p.m. The MVP went to Andre Jackson, who had 18 points today to go along with a 25-point performance in the first game. Tremmel Fisher had a great game as well with 34 points.
Emmit Middlebrooks led OTC with 20 points while Khalid Brown had 16 and Davon Alexander had 12.
An entertaining quarter-by-quarter game. Coach Starling Bryant talked about how East wanted to beat OTC especially after last season, when OTC beat East in the final regular season game to win the Buffalo Public Schools' Yale Cup.
Back to the office to write the story for tomorrow's paper.
* * *
Here's a clip from the fourth quarter of the Jerry Cooper Division final won by East.