Melissa Fisher and Kenmore West ran away with a win over rival East in a recent Niagara Frontier League game.
To say the Lady Blue Devils needed this one was, at best, an understatement.
Alyssa Lesakowski scored 13 points and added eight rebounds to set the tone as Kenmore West beat East 55-26 in the opening game of the Battle of Kenmore basketball doubleheader that took place at Ken- East on Jan.11.
Coming into the season with seven new faces and having lost eight seniors, including all five starters, West knew it would experience its share of growing pains. But little did it know just how rocky the road would be.
Not only did the Blue Devils enter the game at 1-7, each game was marred by a lack of consistency that simply is not the Ken-West way. More than anything the mounting concern was the lack of offense and how West kept getting hung up at 23 points game after game.
It led coach Mike Licata to somberly say the enemy was from within. They had to find a way to put the pieces together.
On this night, the Blue Devils put it all together and showed what they were capable of. And it was, to say the least, a relief.
“I really can’t even explain it,” West senior Liz Gallagher said. “We obviously haven’t gotten off to a good start this year, but I feel like this is a turning point. Tonight, we really brought it and I felt like we were all in it together and we had a lot of heart. I think it was the first time we actually played together, as a team, all 11 girls. It can only get better from here.”
Lesakowski took charge early on as she hit the first bucket of the game then added nine more points before the quarter was over as West held a 13-8 lead.
A typical East-West encounter, the game was physical from the opening tip off as both teams wanted to earn bragging rights.
West had momentum early on, but a three-pointer from Sarah McCarthy (11 points) and Ashley Kirbis going 2-for-2 at the line tied the game at 8-8 with 1:53 left to play in the first. But it quickly got out of hand as the fired-up Bulldogs missed far too many shots and passes.
“We definitely came out confident but I think we got, maybe, a little too confident,” said Kirbis, East’s captain. “And when it was tied at 8-8 it, we were like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a close game.’ But, and I know myself I’m guilty of it as well, we’ve got to play harder...As a leader, I’m supposed to be someone who’s a calming effect, someone who can stay positive, but I’m human and I get down on myself.”
“We’ve been working our butts off in practice, we’ve been staying so focused during our games, and I know some of our scores don’t really show how focused we’ve been,” she added.
While Kirbis showed character by putting the blame on her shoulders, it was the effort the Blue Devils that seemed to take the wind out of East’s sails.
West’s intense defense returned as they forced Ken-East into shots and passes that it normally would not attempt.
Gallagher and Marylouise Lindner both had strong all-around games as they each sank 11 points while West built a 32-13 lead at halftime.
The night was made even more difficult for the Bulldogs as they played without starting point guard Julia Snitzer.
Coach Kristy Bondgren recently said that Snitzer’s presence on the floor provides a calming effect and keeps everyone confident.
Stiil, the Blue Devils realize it was just one game, and that East will be more than ready next time they meet. But for now, this win and this effort, they’ll take it.
“You know what,” West coach Mike Licata said, “this is a nice win to get because I think it keeps the kids believing that if you keep working hard, good things will happen.”