By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 25, 2005 The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs made sure there would be no upset in Wednesday nights Section IX Class B quarterfinal basketball game.
The Lady Bulldogs, seeded fourth in the Class B Tournament, grabbed an early lead on fifth-seeded Marlboro. Freshman forward Sarah Lander scored the games first basket on a 15-foot jump shot 28 seconds into the game. From that juncture until the final buzzer sounded, SW enjoyed a lead of at least two points to as many as 16.
With the victory, SW (15-6) advanced to the semifinals where it will face top-seeded John S. Burke Catholic High School. That contest between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Eagles is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. tonight at SUNY Orange in Middletown.
Marlboro ended its season with a 9-11 record.
After a relatively even first quarter in which they outscored the Lady Dukes by an 8-4 margin, the Lady Bulldogs extended their advantage in the second quarter. Two baskets inside the lane by junior forward April Ackermann and a driving layup by senior point guard Heather Lander in the first two-plus minutes of the period gave SW a double-digit lead at 14-4.
Marlboro Coach Mike Koehler then called a timeout in an effort to reorganize his team and slow the Lady Bulldogs momentum. But SW responded with three consecutive baskets. Junior guard Kate Fanning hit a jump shot, Ackermann scored another inside hoop and Heather Lander stole the ball from a Marlboro player and then sprinted downcourt to convert a layup. That basket gave the Lady Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game at 20-4.
With 2:38 remaining until halftime, Lady Duke junior forward Kanita Boone ended SWs 14-0 scoring run by converting a rare four-point play. Boone was fouled while putting up a shot from behind the 3-point arc. The ball fell through the net and Boone was awarded one foul shot. She then swished the free throw to pull the Lady Dukes to within 12 points at 20-8.
SW enjoyed a 14-point advantage at halftime and led by at least 10 points during the third period.
However, in the fourth quarter, Marlboro attempted a comeback. On two separate occasions in those eight minutes, the Lady Dukes cut their deficit to nine points and appeared to have the momentum to close the gap even more. At the 6:20 mark, Marlboro junior guard Marion Casey scored to make it a 33-24 game.
But 40 seconds later, Sarah Lander converted the first of a pair of free throws to give the Lady Bulldogs a 10-point lead (34-24). Just over a minute later, she made a nice pass to older sister Heather, who knocked down a long jumper from just inside the 3-point line to boost the SW advantage to 37-24.
With 2:20 displayed on the scoreboard clock, Lady Duke senior center Jen Kitson scored inside the lane to cut the Lady Bulldogs lead to single digits, 37-28. However, SWs Kate Fanning calmly swished a pair of free throws 27 seconds later to extend her teams lead to 11 (39-28).
We were pretty fortunate to only score four points in the first quarter and still be in the game, Koehler said. We had the shots, but couldnt convert them. I think we missed about 10 layups in the second half. If we had made half of those shots, it would have been a different ballgame.
Boone was the only Lady Duke to score in double figures. She recorded a game-high 14 points and Casey added nine points.
While conceding that his team missed some open shots, Koehler praised the Lady Bulldogs defense.
They had great help defense tonight, he said. And they took about three hard charges. Coaches like to see a player give up their body on plays like that.
SW Coach Ron Bernhardt noted that his team lost its focus a little bit in the second half, but he was pleased with the victory.
At this time of year, its win and move on, he said, alluding to the single-elimination format of the sectional tournament.
We had good help defense, Bernhardt added. We want to have a better focus, though. And we will have to play 100 percent better against Burke on Friday.
Heather Lander finished the evening with a team-high 13 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists. Fanning added 10 points and five rebounds, Ackermann recorded nine points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Sarah Lander had seven points and five rebounds.
In addition, senior center Autumn Darder registered 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.
Heather [Lander] had a great game, Bernhardt commented. She beat the press and made some great shots.
No matter what the final score of tonights battle with Burke is, Bernhardt and Assistant Coach Kurt Scheibe Jr. are pleased with how the Lady Bulldogs competed this season.
We are very proud of all of these players and how much they have improved this year, Scheibe said. We never had to worry about their effort when we came to games.