Thursday January 24, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Kaley Reardon gets a step on Taylor Heinold as the junior helped Hamburg to a tight 46-43 win in a competitive rivalry game at Immaculata. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Considering that the game pitted two Hamburg schools with girls basketball teams entering the clash with a combined 18-4 mark this season, Friday (Jan. 18) evening’s Hamburg High and Immaculata Academy match-up wound up being as good as advertised.
While both teams lived up to their billing, Hamburg was the one able to fight off an early deficit for the 46-43 win in the cozy confines of Immaculata’s gymnasium on South Park Ave.
“It was an exciting game,” said Hamburg head coach Kelly Owens, whose team has not missed a beat from a sectional finalist season last year with a 9-1 mark in 2012-13. “I don’t know if we came out a little nervous. We talked about it being a smaller gym and being tight and that we’re going to have to battle the whole game. (Immaculata was) not going to go away. We knew it was going to be a tight game and we talked about that in preparing for this.”
Immaculata jumped out to a 13-3 lead after the first quarter, behind senior standout Taylor Heinold scoring nine of her game-high 21 points, but Hamburg chipped away before taking its first lead of the game with 2:52 left in the third.
The Bulldogs stretched that lead to as many as seven points but Immaculata’s unwillingness to back down set the stage for a game that came down to the final shot. The home team also knocked down 9 of 10 free throws to help keep it in the game.
The Bears scored with 1:05 left in the game to cut Hamburg’s lead to 44-43, but went without a point the rest of the way. Immaculata’s final shot attempt was from way beyond the three-point line and fell short.
“It went right down to the wire and both teama did a great job,” Immaculata head coach Andrea Drabik said after her team had its eight-game win streak snapped and fell to 10-4. “I told my girls they played hard and they’ve got nothing to hang their heads about. A couple calls either way, a couple of buckets go the other way and this turns into something else.”
Hamburg slowed down Immaculata after the first quarter by going to a zone defense and after having trouble finishing on its opportunities to start the game, knocked down a bunch of clutch shots in the second half.
“I think finally we got into our game,” Owens said. “I said at one point that we’re getting into a track meet with them and we can’t do that. I said we need to get back to our game — look to get in transition, slow it up on offense — and we’ll get what we want but we’ve got to work for that. I think they got a little more confident and went with it.”
Even with top scorers Taylor Wolf, Hamburg’s only returning starter from last season, and Kendra Quinn-Moultrie in early foul trouble and sitting for much of the second quarter, Hamburg was able to get on an 8-0 run which pulled it within 13-11 and made the halftime deficit a much more respectable 21-17.
“We worked really hard for this win,” said Quinn-Moultrie, a junior forward, who still managed to lead Hamburg with 13 points. “Taylor and I both got in foul trouble but a bunch of people stepped up. Then my teammates passed to me and helped me make some shots from the outside. It was a big team win for everyone.”
Quinn-Moultrie stepped outside to nail two jumpers to start the second half and then later in the third added a basket for a six-point quarter. Jill Ford, which finished with nine points, knocked down a three to give Hamburg its first lead of the game, 28-26.
“Where we may have fallen a little short is when we got them in foul trouble early and we didn’t capitalize on that,” Drabik said. “(Taylor Wolf) was out and we missed a couple of easy buckets and gave up a couple of easy buckets. Things like that hurt you down the line when the game comes down to a three.”
Junior Kaylee Reardon came off the bench to score 10 points for Hamburg, while sophomore Jordan Smith scored six of her eight points playing big in the fourth quarter. Her final bucket was on a drive and score with 47 seconds left to extend Hamburg’s lead to 46-43.
Owens was also quite complimentary of the effort of lanky sophomore forward Ashley Kabza, who came off the bench to provide Hamburg with some big minutes. Kabza also has been one of the team’s hardest workers in practice, according to Owens.
“I think once we switched defenses, we matched up a little bit better with them. What was also huge for us is that some of the kids who don’t usually see a lot of playing time stepped up huge for us,” Owens said.
Quinn-Moultrie also believed that receiving contributions from many players helped the team stick with it even as Hamburg trailed early on.
“We couldn’t get down; we had to stay with it,” she said. “We couldn’t lose any of our confidence. It was a tough game and a tough team.”
Senior forward Bailey Gawley scored six of her eight points in the second half for Immaculata. Two of her baskets came in the final 2:27 to keep her team within striking distance. Fellow senior Kathryn Halloran added seven for the Bears and freshman teammate Jordan Heinold notched six.
Drabik was happy to see a packed house, albeit a standing room only crowd for those who arrived late, to not only take in a competitive cross-town rival but also support a good cause.
Students from the academy’s sports marketing class hosted a fundraiser for The American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer initiative at the varsity and JV games, with a portion of proceeds also going to Immaculata’s scholarship fund. They helped engineer an effort which included basket and 50/50 raffles and concession sales.