The Fredonia Lady Hillbillies came into Thursday’s Section 6 Class B-1 quarterfinal playoff game as the No. 1 seed and heavily favored to defeat the No. 9 Olean Lady Huskies.
Unfortunately for Fredonia, it left on the wrong end of a 58-38 final score and were bounced from the playoffs.
“I’m just so proud of those kids. It really speaks to their character,” Olean coach Randy Samuelson said “They’re huge character kids and they didn’t give up. They took they’re best shot and they just said, ‘Enough is enough.’ They’re great kids, just great, great kids.”
Fredonia held a 15-10 lead early in the second quarter before the Lady Huskies went on a game-changing 24-0 run over the next eight minutes.
The run began as Olean outscored Fredonia 14-0 to end the second quarter and took a commanding 25-15 lead into halftime.
The Lady Hillbillies needed to start the second half strong, but instead they continued their cold streak and allowed the Lady Huskies to open the third quarter on a 10-0 run.
Olean was able to slow Fredonia down with its full-court trapping press defense the entire game. Turnovers, combined with a flurry of missed baskets, helped Olean hold the Lady Hillbillies scoreless during the eight minute stretch, which led to the 24-0 run.
Fredonia showed signs of life early in the fourth quarter when Sarah Cruver sparked a 7-0 run, but by then it was too little, too late.
“I was disappointed we came out and didn’t play the way we are capable of playing,” Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said. “I think they wanted it so bad that they were trying too hard. They were so nervous they just didn’t execute. We worked on a lot of things during the week and you wouldn’t know it by watching us tonight.”
“I am surprised to the degree of the win,” Samuelson said. “We know Fredonia. I’ve been doing this 25-27 years and we knew what we were going to get involved in. To beat a number one seed on their court when we were… we were bad (at times during the regular season). There were signs of that badness tonight, but not a lot of it.”
Cruver’s aggressive defense led to multiple Olean turnovers to start the fourth quarter and brought the score to 42-29, but the Lady Huskies would recover and outscore Fredonia 16-9 to close out the quarter and seal the upset.
“Defensively we didn’t do what we needed to do. We talked about things all week and we didn’t box out,” Zirkle said. “We knew we had to rebound them and it didn’t happen. We knew we had to stop the drive and defend the 3-pointer. We didn’t do that. We just didn’t execute, bottom line.”
Cruver finished the game with 14 points on 50-percent shooting while adding five steals and three rebounds to lead a Fredonia team that otherwise lacked an offensive spark.
Morgan Genovese added nine points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach.
Freshman Caitlyn Cybart pulled down five rebounds in the loss while her sister, and fellow freshman, Hannah Cybart chipped in four points.
Courtney Martin led Olean at both ends of the floor with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Martin controlled the paint early and repeatedly turned away Fredonia shots to limit the Lady Hillbillies inside scoring threats.
“It’s a big, big win against a well-coached team,” Samuelson said. “(Zirkle) is a great coach. I have a lot of respect for her. She is a very good coach. She came up and watched us play so she knew what she was going to get. She’s well prepared.”
Rachel Painter added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Huskies and Katie Skudlarek also contributed in the win with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“I have had a thoroughly enjoyable season,” Zirkle said. “This is a great bunch of kids and they’ve worked very hard. They put in a lot of time during the offseason and have done everything I have asked of them all season long. They’re fun to be around; they make you smile.”