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Springville-Griffith Institute girls varsity basketball team gets back on track against Amherst

RISING STAR — Tia Woodarek goes up for a layup in an earlier game against Eden. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute varsity girls basketball team took on the Amherst Tigers on Jan. 10, looking to end a two-game losing streak.

Alena Woodarek grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up, early in the second quarter, to give the Lady Griffins a 17 – 16 lead.

Following a 12 – 11 Amherst lead, after the first quarter, Woodarek’s layup ignited a 12 – 0 Springville run and the Lady Griffins took a 29 – 16 lead, early in the third quarter.

Woodarek hit a 3, with 7:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Springville took its biggest lead of the game, at 40 – 24. Amherst player Claire Wanzer’s bucket, late in the fourth quarter, started an 8 – 2 Amherst run, but the Lady Griffins would ultimately prevail and beat the visiting Tigers 54 – 40.

“We spent a lot of time this past week, emphasizing execution, discipline and keeping positive, in those times of adversity,” said Coach Chris Mathewson. “Sometimes, execution is as simple as making the play in front of us, which requires having your head up, reading the defense and moving the ball. Our team quickness and speed are team strengths, but we have to be using those strengths with a purpose and not play too rushed or frantic.”

Leading the girls in scoring was Woodarek, with 14 points, 1 point shy of her season-high, against Cheektowaga. Her 14 points increased her season average to slightly more than 9 points, per game. Woodarek also dished out a season-high four assists and added three steals to her stat line.

“Alena has been working hard, all year, at her shooting, working hard at having consistent form and understanding balance,” Mathewson said. “She has been a pretty proficient shooter in practice, but, unfortunately, that hard work hasn’t transferred to game situations as much as she’d like. But, last night, her focus on the pace of her play and not rushing allowed her to settle in to her shot with what looked to me like a lot more comfort and confidence. It also allowed her to make some pretty good reads and set her teammates up for some good looks.”

Woodarek’s four assists led the team and the Lady Griffins racked up a season-high in assists, with up 12 helpers in the win.

Erin Kwiatkowski and Taine Dallas each added three assists.

TEAMWORK — Taine Dallas passes the ball to a teammate, during an earlier game against Eden.
Mathewson said that he was looking for his team to make the extra pass, giving his shooters higher percentage shots. “As a team last night, we embraced the idea of making the assist and that made us better shooters,” he said. “The improved decision-making and play-making by everybody resulted in the team’s ability to convert shots into points and our highest offensive output of the year.”

Springville held Amherst to 40 points. Leading the defensive effort was Kwiatkowski and Woodarek, with three steals each.

Sophomore forward Sarah Byrne pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked a shot, during the win. After spending her freshman year on the junior varsity team, Byrne was pulled up to varsity this season. As the youngest member on the team, she leads the Lady Griffins in blocked shots and is second on the team, in rebounding.

“I can’t say enough about the competitiveness Sarah Byrne showed, last night, against a bigger Amherst lineup,” Mathewson said, regarding the sophomore’s performance. “I love defensive rebounds. Sarah was huge last night and I know her teammates appreciate and respect her efforts.”

Tia Woodarek had 13 points, while Kwiakowski added 12. With this last win, the Lady Griffins now sit in sixth place in their division and are two games out of first place. Springville also has games remaining, with teams ahead of it in the rankings.

DO NOT ACCEPT DEFEAT — Springville athlete Phoenix Rollek handles the ball against an Amherst team member.
“All eight healthy girls made major contributions [against Amherst],” Mathewson said. “It’s always good to get a win but, at this point of the season, it is important to get wins with solid play and keep building on that. The challenge for the girls now is to play that way again.”

The Lady Griffins also took on Cheektowaga on Jan. 18.

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