Romulus’ size too much for Pine Valley in 65-45 defeat

CANANDAIGUA – The Pine Valley Lady Panthers knew coming into their New York State Public High School Athletic Association Far West Regional game that getting past Section 5’s Romulus was going to be a tall order.

After taking a 16-12 lead into the second quarter, they found out exactly how tough that task was as the Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Panthers, 23-4, and never looked back en route to a 65-45 win and a trip to the NYSPHSAA semifinals next weekend in Troy.

“Size, that’s the biggest thing that affected us,” Pine Valley head coach Tim Nobles said. “We didn’t box-out enough. There were times that we could have got the ball, but we didn’t box out. Their size just wore us down.”

Alex Bentham got the Lady Panthers out to a quick start with eight points in the first quarter on a pair of 3-pointers and a floater in the lane, but Pine Valley was unable to carry that momentum over and earn its 10th trip to the state Final Four.

“I thought our press did give them a little bit of problems,” Nobles said. “But obviously not enough. Their guards are fast. Our guards are pretty speedy and they blew by us. It’s just a quality team that we played.”

Maegann Mein and Zoe McDonald had six points each in the second quarter and Jenny Tompkins added four more as the Lady Warriors used a 14-0 run over the first 4:30 of the second quarter to put all the distance they needed between themselves and the Lady Panthers at 26-16.

“Our shooting has been very weak during the playoffs,” Nobles said. “(Alex) Bentham came right out and hit a (3-pointer) and that was fine. We actually shot well in practice this week. I don’t know what we shot (Saturday), but it wasn’t good enough.”

McDonald finished with a team-high 15 points while Mein finished with nine for the New York State Sportswriter’s Association’s top-ranked Class D team.

“We had a couple of key turnovers where they went right down and scored,” Nobles said. “And they had a couple of rebounds. Our rotations weren’t quick enough, and when we rotated on defense, our weak-side guard didn’t box out a couple of times. It wasn’t just our guards, it was everybody. If we were going to get a rebound on any of those tall girls, we were going to have to get a body on them. And we did sometimes, but we didn’t do it enough.”

Pine Valley was outscored 17-11 in the third quarter as Romulus continued to increase its lead as the game wore on.

“Running our offense was a key factor (in the loss),” Nobles said. “Because we didn’t take advantage. We felt that we could get the ball into the high post and (Mansfield) could make a move with an up-fake and get to the foul line. And we did make a few moves, we just needed to do it more.”

The Lady Panthers continued to play hard through the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Warriors, 14-13, but it was not nearly enough as Pine Valley saw its record in Far West Regionals fall to 9-4.

“We didn’t give up,” Nobles game. “It was a 20-point game at the end, but it could have been a 40-point game. There was no quit in this team and that’s what I was really proud of. (Romulus) was a good team. They battled, we battled and they outscored us by 20.”

Bentham finished with a game-high 19 points and will be one of six players who will return next year to help the Lady Panthers defend their Section 6 title.

“She did what we expect her to do,” Nobles said of Bentham. “Plain and simple. Kayla Mansfield and Alex Bentham to step up. They’re leaders and that’s what they’re supposed to do and everybody had to step up. So that was big.”

Senior Kayla Mansfield finished her Pine Valley career with an 11-point effort.

“Kayla Mansfield has been with us since ninth grade,” Nobles said. “Aaren (Waterman) has been with us for three years. We love those girls because they work so hard. They’re used to work and that’s what made them good players.”