One up, one down
JAMESTOWN – The fourth-seeded Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds (19-1) may have been the favorites against second-seeded Randolph (18-3) heading into Saturday’s Section 6 Class C-2 girls basketball final at McElrath Gymnasium after winning the regular season meeting between the two teams, but no one thought for a minute that they were a 40-point favorite.
The Lady Cardinals ran into an offensive juggernaut at “The Mac” as they fell 80-42 to Chautauqua Lake in front of packed house.
The post combination of Ashton Albanesius and Jenna Einink caused some serious headaches for Randolph and coach Shawn Huntington as the pair combined for 45 points and 32 boards in a dominant effort down low.
Albanesius picked up her double-double with 25 points and 15 boards along with four assists while Einink was equally impressive with 20 points, 17 rebounds, six steals and five blocks.
Junior star Mckenna Maycock accounted for more than half of the Randolph offense with 24 points, but had difficulty facing the Lady Thunderbirds bigs in the paint.
After picking up her third foul in just the second quarter, Maycock was forced to take her foot off the gas as Chautauqua Lake continued to surge forward. She would go on to foul out with six minutes left to play.
“You know (my) kids, as I told you the other night, I could just see it in their eyes that they were ready to play,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Eric Schuster. “I give (my team) a lot of credit. It’s a we thing, they just play team basketball. I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t trade a darn thing for any of these kids. I wouldn’t coach another team, I just enjoy them that much.”
While Schuster may not ever want another coaching position, it is safe to say that there are a few area coaches that wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to run his current team.
Einink was sharp as a razor in the early minutes, hitting every open player with crisp passes and finishing when she got any open looks.
The junior began the game at the foul line with a pair of makes, then posted another two points on a steal and drive, which was followed up by a block and another drive to the rack for two.
The Lady Cardinals were in a 6-0 hole before some of their players even had a chance to take their warmups off.
Not to be outdone, Maycock was able to respond with a conversion on a three point play, and then another “and-one” to draw Randolph within two.
After Einink’s torrent of points, Albanesius got to work in the post, converting on a nice feed from the outside and notching and offensive rebound.
Even as Randolph’s MacKenzie Marsh stroked a trey to end the first quarter, there was a feeling that it was going to take something unbelievable for the Lady Cardinals to pull off a victory.
The small amount of hope that remained after the first period was quickly dashed when Maycock picked up her third foul and was forced away from her usual attacking style of defense.
“We only played her once this year and it wasn’t any easier (this time),” said Schuster. “After the start of the second quarter they were getting a lot of open looks so we switched it up and played a little diamond-and-one and that seemed to be the better defense today for sure. We worked on a lot of different things yesterday, a lot of her tendencies you know and where we could draw fouls.”
Even with the solid defensive scheming by Chautauqua Lake, Maycock still managed to find buckets by driving inside and would have most likely broken the 30-point mark if it was not for her foul issues.
Albanesius was able to put the Lady Thunderbirds up 22-13 on a bounce-pass from Einink, who then picked up another bucket of her own with a beautiful spin-move.
As if Chautauqua Lake’s two star forwards were not enough to combat, Randolph then had to deal with a pair of buckets by Ashley Moulton, whose size started to cause mismatches as Einink and Albanesius drew more attention.
Moulton ended the contest with nine points and four boards.
It was more of the same in the paint for the Lady Thunderbirds to end the first half as they carried a daunting 41-18 margin into the third quarter.
There were no parts of Schuster’s game plan on offense that weren’t working with the championship on the line. Courtney Hewes was confident and fluid moving the ball in the backcourt and running the point, as she had 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Chautauqua Lake will now meet Tapestry Charter, the winner of Class C-1 title by virtue of a win over Silver Creek, for the overall Class C championship on Wednesday at the McElrath Gymnasium at a time to be announced.