Clutch performer

What the Dunkirk Lady Marauders (1-2, 0-2) were able to do for three quarters Friday night against Fredonia’s Morgan Genovese, they couldn’t do in the fourth quarter – and it ended up costing them.

Genovese, arguably the Lady Hillbillies’ most dangerous scorer, was held to four points in the game’s first 24 minutes, but she exploded for nine points in the fourth quarter to help Fredonia (4-0, 2-0) to a 53-43 win over archrival Dunkirk in CCAA West I girls basketball action.

“She’s got that experience,” Fredonia head coach Carol Zirkle said of Genovese. “She didn’t have the greatest beginning to the game, but when the game’s on the line, she wants the ball. And she’s going to be the one – not that we don’t have other girls that are capable – she’s developed that confidence and she just has that experience to take over the game when she needs to.”

After Dunkirk got to within one of the Fredonia lead at 33-32 with 1:23 left in the third quarter, Genovese took over, helping Fredonia go on a 12-0 run to seal the victory.

“In the first three quarters, we held Morgan Genovese to four points,” Dunkirk head coach Sarah Burnett noted. “That was what we wanted to do. We wanted to take her out of the ball game. We wanted to stick somebody on her and limit her touches. And I was very happy with the way we executed that. In the fourth quarter, she had nine points, so we obviously, again, had some mental lapses, because it worked for us for three quarters. But she ended up getting her touches and any good ball player is going to capitalize on those opportunities.”

Genovese finished with 13 points and four steals. But it wasn’t all Genovese as the Lady Hillbillies got key contributions from a set of freshman twin sisters.

“We have a couple of freshman on the team,” Zirkle noted. “So this was their first Dunkirk-Fredonia game and they were really nervous. And it was just nice to see them step up and have good games.”

Those twins would be Hannah and Caitlyn Cybart, who combined for 16 points on the night, including six from Hannah in the second quarter.

“That’s huge,” Zirkle said of Hannah Cybart’s six-point effort in the second quarter. “To come in as a freshman and you’re struggling a little bit at the time and have six points (in the second quarter).”

“(Caitlyn) had a couple of big rebounds and a big shot here and a big shot there,” Zirkle continued. “And Alicia (Deering) stepped in at one point when we were struggling and she was smooth. Everyone steps up.”

Deering’s biggest contribution came with the Lady Hillbillies hanging on to a 47-40 lead late in the final quarter as she was fouled on a successful field goal attempt and connected from the charity stripe for a traditional 3-point play and a 10-point cushion for the visitors.

“I don’t think it was a matter of running out of gas and not being able to play up to the speed and intensity of Fredonia,” Burnett said. “I think we, again, had a ton of mental lapses. We definitely had some opportunities down the stretch, but we didn’t capitalize on them.”

After a ferocious pace to start the game, the Lady Hillbillies ended the first quarter with a slim 13-11 lead, before taking a 26-22 lead into the break.

“It was a great game for both teams,” Burnett said. “It’s always a fun game playing this rivalry out, because you never know what is going to happen. Any girl is capable of stepping up during this game and I thought it was fun. It hurt us that we played behind most of the game. I don’t even know if we were ever ahead, but I want to emphasize being able to come out and get the edge, because I think again, in our league, the first couple minutes of every game are going to be crucial for setting the tone.”

In the third quarter, the Lady Marauders kept it close and after Alexis Clark connected on a pair of free throws to bring Dunkirk within one of the Fredonia lead, the Lady Hillbillies took over going on their insurmountable 12-0 run to put the game away.

“I think we are in that game if we are more patient on offense and more disciplined on defense,” Burnett said. “And those are definitely things we need to improve on as a team as we make our way through the season.”

Even with the loss, Burnett was happy with what she saw from her team, especially Sarah Hanlon, who finished with a game-high 17 points and five rebounds, despite spending a considerable amount of time on the bench in foul trouble.

“You can always rely on Sarah Hanlon to bring so much energy on both ends of the court,” Burnett said. “And that’s definitely what she did (Friday). But if we don’t have her in foul trouble and we have her on the court more, she obviously helps us more. So, one thing we need to improve on with her, is finding ways to keep her in the game and having her stay out of foul trouble.”

As for the Lady Hillbillies, Zirkle likes what she sees, but knows there is still more work to be done.

“Some of these girls have been on varsity for three years now and it’s nice to see the growth and to see them improving,” Zirkle said. “And what we struggled with last year is becoming a little bit easier. Not that it’s easy, but it’s becoming a little bit easier and they’re becoming more confident in what they’re doing.”

Both teams are back in action on Monday as the Lady Marauders host the Pine Valley Lady Panthers and the Lady Hillbillies travel to take on the Southwestern Lady Trojans.

NOTES: Clark finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks … Maddison Abram had seven rebounds to lead the Lady Hillbillies … Deering finished with six points and six rebounds.