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Hamburg dealt a valuable lesson in dropping a pair of tournament games

CAN’T GET A GRIP — Sophomore Anna Chiacchia (right) and Hamburg fell here to East Aurora, after losing to host Orchard Park in two games at the holiday tournament, over the weekend. Photo by Michael Petro.
The Hamburg girls basketball team learned a valuable lesson over the weekend at the Orchard Park Holiday Tournament. It’s one the Bulldogs were probably familiar with beforehand, but it became obvious that they could use the reinforcement.

Hamburg head coach Kelly Owens acknowledged that her players must realize that, just because the team may be talented, it cannot just step on the court and expect to win. It’s something the girls learned the hard way in two losses in as many days.

Coming into the tournament on Dec. 27 unbeaten at 4 – 0, highly-touted Hamburg lost in a pair of close games, to finish fourth.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t our two days; that’s for sure,” Owens said. “Hopefully, it’s a little bit of a reality check, an eye opener, about things we need to work on and do better. You have to earn every win that you get. We need to understand that.”

After falling to Orchard Park 51 – 42 in the opening round, Hamburg lost to East Aurora 42 – 38 in the consolation game Dec. 28. Hamburg led 28 – 24 in the third, before the Blue Devils went on a 12 – 0 run toward the end of the quarter.

“Unfortunately, we just didn’t show up to play; not due to a lack of skill or talent, by any means,” Owens noted. “Just, the team effort wasn’t there and that was unfortunate to watch.”

Hamburg had beaten three division foes, including Iroquois 48 – 34 on Dec. 21 and Starpoint 52 – 34, three days earlier. The Bulldogs opened the season by also defeating Class AA’s Williamsville North 48 – 35, which was the highest offensive output they allowed, through four games.

“Our intensity and defense had been there and our inside game was good, but today [against East Aurora] we missed a ton of inside shots,” Owens said. “We didn’t shoot well from the field and we were not great from the foul line. Had we capitalized on that, maybe that would have been the difference.”

Senior forward Kendra Quinn-Moultrie earned all-tournament honors for Hamburg. She finished with 22 points in the opener and 10 against East Aurora. Senior guard Leah Jones made 17 points, during the two days.

Senior Jessie Smith scored 4 of her 8 points consecutively for Hamburg, to cut East Aurora’s lead to 40 – 38 with 1 minute left. But the Bulldogs came up empty on three straight possessions, while trailing by two. In that time, Hamburg just missed on a layup and short post-up shot. In the opener, eventual tournament most valuable player selection Shaye Swiatek put up 16 points, to lead Orchard Park.

Hamburg was missing two of its top athletes in juniors Ashley Kabza and Jordan Smith, during the tournament, but Owens said she would not use that as a crutch for the team.

“I don’t like to look at that as an excuse,” she said. “Other people need to step up, fill roles and play the game. We certainly could have won both games, even without our bigs.”

Also locally, Frontier pulled away from Williamsville North for a 41 – 29 victory on Dec. 28, to remain undefeated going into the New Year. After recently winning the Frontier Holiday Tournament with an overtime win against Nardin, the 5 – 0 Falcons won their third Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division I contest so far, this season. They will be tested, playing next Jan. 7 at perennial-power and division mate Jamestown.

Eden got into the win column before the holiday break, on Dec. 19, defeating Holland 55 – 49 in ECIC Division IV action. Sabrina Kraska finished with 18 points and six rebounds, while fellow junior Lindsay Gearhart notched 12 points and 12 rebounds. Meghan Ballou and MacKenzie Biastre each added 7 points.

The Raiders had started the season 0 – 4, falling in all three games at a competitive tournament in the Bahamas, from Dec. 5 – 7, and then losing their division opener to defending ECIC IV regular season champion Tonawanda 45 – 30, on Dec. 17.

Lake Shore entered the holiday break with a 2 – 3 mark, including a 36 – 35 win against Cheektowaga, on Dec. 17, in ECIC Division III play. In the last-second win, Darian Evans scored the game-winning bucket in the final seconds of the game and finished with 13 rebounds, while fellow forward Shayla Scanlan notched 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Karen Snow added 8 points and Melanie Linsmair, 14 rebounds and four steals.

The Eagles have also lost tight games with divisional foes East Aurora, 43 – 38 on Dec. 19, and Amherst, 37 – 31 on Dec. 10. Evans scored 15 points in the loss to East Aurora. The Eagles defeated Gowanda and then lost in the Hae Jude Tournament final to host Silver Creek, to open the season.

Immaculata improved to 5 – 3 with a 55 – 40 win against Fredonia on Dec. 27, behind Jordan Heinold’s 27 points.
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