SANBORN — Cassie Oursler woke up Thursday morning and could hardly talk. Her voice was raspy throughout the rest of the week and her first thought was, “oh great, I’m going to be sick.”
Oursler may not have been able to talk Saturday, but she was heard from.
The 6-foot-3 senior, Grand Island’s center of attention, put together a monster game to help GI beat Hamburg, 49-39, in the Section VI Class A-1 championship girls basketball game played at Niagara County Community College.
The Vikings (11-8) will play A-2 champion Pioneer (13-8) for the overall Class A title at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at NCCC. It’s the third year in a row the teams will meet for the crown.
Oursler, who has signed with Robert Morris, finished with 16 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocks to help the Vikings secure their fifth consecutive Class A-1 title. Dakayla Winfield added 10 points and Grace Olszewski and Stephanie Knight provided a spark combining for 14.
Oursler was dominant on both ends, blocking shots and scoring when counted on.
“I felt like I stepped up on defense because that was more important today,” said Oursler. “We focused mainly on their shooters. Inside we knew they had a lot of girls who were good and getting a rebound and going back up with it.”
Hamburg, which was chasing its first sectional crown since 2005, finishes 19-2 with its only other loss coming to Class AA Clarence. The Bulldogs rolled to a 12-0 record in winning ECIC II, but GI presented its share of challenges. Oursler and 6-foot senior Kassie Bennett helped take away Hamburg’s inside game.
Hamburg’s only lead of the game was at 3-0. The Vikings answered with a 9-0 run in which Oursler was the key with five points. By the end of the first quarter, which ended 13-7 in favor of GI, she already had seven rebounds.
The teams traded baskets in the second quarter with Grand Island scoring the last six points to take a 26-18 lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was about as even as it could be with both teams scoring 13 points. Hamburg scored the last five points, looking to build some momentum going into the fourth.
Class A-2: Desperate for a basket down by one point with 12.4 seconds left, Pioneer put the ball in the hands of Jacque Law.
The junior guard delivered, driving baseline and scoring with three seconds left as the Panthers rallied to a 50-49 win over Cheektowaga. The Warriors took the ball out, but their inbounds pass was tipped at the baseline by Yvonne Isaacs and time expired giving Pioneer its third A-2 title in a row in its seventh straight final.
“I saw Becca [Foote] setting the pick and I tried going around it going to the hoop. That’s what I had to do,” said Law. “It depended on where they were, what we would do, we had three options set up. I had to improvise a little.”
Law finished with 20 points and seven assists. Shannon Rogers led all scorers with 27 points and five steals. Foote grabbed eight rebounds. Pioneer survived 7-of-19 shooting from the foul line, including 1 of 7 in the last quarter.
This one is going to sting for a while in Cheektowaga, which was trying to win its first sectional title. Except for being behind, 2-0, the Warriors led for nearly the entire game. They built a seven-point lead early in the second quarter showing a nice touch from the outside, and enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 36-27 early in the third. It unraveled in the fourth.
“We wanted to put the number up on the banner,” Cheektowaga coach Lynnae Fenton. “At the end when we couldn’t pull it out, it just hurts.”