Sherman girls basketball (2-0, 5-1) will move on to the finals of the Jock Shop Holiday Shootout Tournament after staving off Ellicottville (2-2), 43-36, Friday night at Jamestown Community College.
The Lady Wildcats then faced Southwestern for the tournament title Saturday at 7:30.
Sherman struggled to find accurate shooting in the opening minutes of the game, but then launched into rhythm from beyond the arc on its way to picking up a decisive lead.
Photo by Jay Young
Sherman’s Roxanne Toy, left, applies defensive pressure on Ellicottville’s Marissa Hamilton during the first round of the Jock Shop Holiday Shootout on Friday night.
Talia Coccarelli finished the night with two buckets from long range and eight boards, while Natalie Houle led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points on four treys.
"I think we were adjusting to playing in a different atmosphere," said Lady Wildcats coach Mel Swanson. "But after those first four or five minutes we shot really well from three, which got us our lead."
After missing its first four attempts from three-point range, Sherman found itself in a hole early on.
Kara Conroy notched a quick opening deuce for the Lady Eagles on a pass from Marissa Hamilton that helped her team build a three-point margin in the early going.
Hamilton provided a strong point inside for Ellicottville throughout the night, leading her team with a 15 point-11 rebound effort. While she was dominant in the post, Hamilton also made an impact by forcing turnovers, finishing with six steals. One of those takeaways came in the early minutes to help the Lady Eagles pick up their early lead, but the momentum would not last.
It was Coccarelli's first trey of the night that trimmed the Ellicottville margin to 9-7 heading into second period, a sign of more to come.
To begin the second quarter, Coccarelli nailed another deep jumper to give Sherman its first lead of the night, one it would not relinquish.
"That early shooting got us our lead, and then we got some good man-to-man play after that," Swanson said.
Accuracy was contagious after the push by Coccarelli.
Shortly after, Houle nailed another from long range to increase the Sherman margin.
"I thought we came out a little sluggish, " said Ellicottville Chad Bartoszek. "We had the Christmas week and I knew that it could happen."
A strong three-point play inside by Hamilton brought Ellicottville back to even at 15-15, but the Lady Wildcats picked up another nine points before halftime. Effort was not a problem for the Lady Eagles moving into the final 16 minutes of the game.
A string of treys from Michaela Pierce, Alexis Wooden, and Elizabeth Wendel helped Ellicottville regain some ground in the third quarter. Shenley Luden countered with a pair of layups for the Lady Wildcats, but by the start of the fourth the game was a close 35-30 in favor of Sherman.
"I thought we played very well in the second half," Bartoszek said. "We switched to a man-to-man defense to counter those shooters, but we just couldn't put it in the basket."
Indeed, missed chances spelled the end for the Lady Eagles in the final period and the Lady Wildcats benefited from perfect shooting at the foul line.
"I though it was a great game, " added Bartoszek. "And we'll definitely see them again during the year."
While Sherman moved on to face Southwestern for the tournament title, the Lady Eagles met Cassadaga Valley in the consolation game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"Southwestern is very experienced and we are starting some sophomores, but we expect to see a very good game," Swanson said.