When Mark Nugent took over as the Jamestown girls basketball coach this season, one of the best decisions he made was to do nothing.
At least in terms of not changing the Red Raiders’ style of play. Most new coaches are anxious to put their stamp on their program. Nugent was smart enough not to mess with success. The get-it-and-launch-it offense that saw Jamestown score 97 points in its sectional final has the team one game from the state final four.
“I knew who these girls were, and I knew their work ethic, and I knew how passionate they were about basketball,” Nugent said. “I fell into a good situation.”
With so many girls teams struggling to score 40 points in a game, Jamestown comes out swinging. A relentless, game-long full-court press results in plenty of layups off turnovers, and absolutely no one is shy about taking an open shot. They average 70.1 ppg.
The Red Raiders will be tested on both ends of the floor this weekend as they are one of five teams from Section VI participating in the 33rd annual Far West Regionals at Buffalo State.
The winner of each of the five regional games played over two days will advance to the NYSPHSAA Final Four at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy on March 15-17.
Section V has proved to be superior at this end of the state with a 38-11 record against Section VI in the last 10 years and 87-50 overall. Last year, Section VI lost four out of five, with Randolph the lone team to advance.
This year’s Section VI teams are no stranger to this round of the state tournament as Sherman has gone nine times, Randolph seven and Grand Island and Randolph six times each.
This is Jamestown’s first trip to the regional since making three in a row from 2005-2008. Gates-Chili promises to be a formidable opponent with three players who average at least 16 points a game. “They haven’t lost a game yet and they’re a tremendous team,” Nugent said.
Jamestown: Anne Campion 16.4; Karisha Tapia 14.1; Rosa Velazquez 10.2; Chrisanna Green 8.6; Dazjah Coleman 5.7.
Gates-Chili: Kori Bayne-Walker 17.2; Diona Johnson 17.0; Cierra Dillard 16.0; Lydia Thomas 4.9; Samantha Heiler 4.8; Dehay Johnson 4.0.
It would have been easy to dismiss Grand Island this year following the graduation of all-time leading scorer and two-time All-WNY guard Kallie Banker. But Cassie Oursler carved the path that sent the Vikings to their fourth straight trip to the Regionals.
The 6-foot-3 Ourlser, who has signed with Robert Morris, has had games of 39, 34, 16 and 23 points in the postseason. She’s a monster on the boards and blocks her share of shots while staying out of foul trouble.
There’s another Kassie under the boards, and this one has played a huge role in GI’s success. Kassie Bennett is another senior 6-footer who tosses in about 10 points per game and has to be accounted for by defenses.
“People underestimate Kassie Bennett’s role on this team,” coach Jenepher Banker said. “They miss that. She’s a role player, she’s a team player, she does a great job.”
Grand Island finds itself paired against Pittsford-Mendon, the same team it beat, 50-46, in 2011 to make states. Grand Island lost in last year’s Regional to Rochester East High.
Grand Island: Cassie Oursler 22.5; Kassie Bennett 9.3; Dakayla Winfield 6.1; Grace Olszewski 5.8; Stephanie Knight 4.7.
Pittsford-Mendon: Lauren D’Hont 17.0; Erin Lyons 13.2; Anna Valentine 6.1; Kristin Powers 4.9; Kelsey Julien 4.9.
Olean has gotten as far as it has because of the play of its front court, led by Sara Ziegler and Maggie Moore. The Huskies will count heavily on their size and experience to get them past Waterloo.
“I feel really good about our defense,” coach Don Scholla said. “We’re not a pressing team, but we play good halfcourt man defense, we get in the gaps, we rotate, it also helps when you have the big girls down there. If someone gets beat they are usually contesting the shots.”
Olean: Sara Ziegler 12.3; Maggie Moore 10.9; Emily Bantelman 10.0; Rachel Painter 7.4; Kaylee Pearl 7.4.
Waterloo: Lindsay Johnson 16.8; Lauren Deming 15.2; Chelsea Steinruck 10.7; Angie Davis 3.7; Haleigh Wright 1.7.
After its 43-42 loss to Hoosic Valley in last year’s state final, there is nothing Randolph wants more than a return trip to Troy. If anyone can get them there’s, it’s super-soph Mckenna Maycock, who has 607 points with 232 rebounds.
Kearney is led by senior forward Skyler Gausney-Jones, who is coming off an 18-point, eight-steal game in their sectional final.
Randolph: McKenna Maycock 27.5; Mandy Finch 8.7; Peyton Terrette 6.6; Megan Steward 4.8; Santana France 4.5.
Bishop Kearney: Skyler Gausney-Jones 11.8; Princella McCullough 8.4; Emmanuella Edoka 8.0; Kharysma Bryant 7.2; Sheila Hawkes 5.3.
Sherman was going to get as far as Elle Reed would take them, and so far they are one game away from the state final four. Reed’s numbers this season would make a respectable career. She has 667 points, 130 steals, and as a guard, leads the team in rebounds with 230.
The Wildcats are no stranger to regionals as they are 3-6 in nine trips. Their last win was over Jasper-Troupsburg in 2009.
Sherman: Elle Reed 31.7; Bridget Yaw 13.0; Danielle Reed 5.7; Talia Coccarelli 5.6; Julia Rater 1.7.
Notre Dame: Melanie Taylor 16.6; Riley Norton 12.8; Emma Francis 6.8; Shea Norton 6.2; Laurie Call 5.9.