The day didn't start off especially well for the Frewsburg Bears.
Not only were they running on fumes - their Saturday evening consolation contest with Dunkirk was their third game in four days - but they also got word that starting forward and senior captain McKenzie Cass would be out for the foreseeable future with an injury she had suffered on the opening day of the United Way Tip-Off Tournament.
But any gloom that the team may have been feeling prior to the game was soon tempered thanks to a victory, 68-43, and a particularly strong performance by Emily Hair.
Frewsburg’s Emily Hair puts up a shot in the lane during the consolation game of the United Way Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday. Hair finished with 12 points in the Bears’ win over Dunkirk. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Hair, a 5-foot-5 shooting guard, was one of the freshest Bears on the court because of foul trouble (and therefore limited minutes) the day before, and it showed.
The junior kicked off an 8-0 run for Frewsburg (4-1) to start the game as she swished a deep jumper following a drive and dish from teammate Reyanne Strong and then hit another shot from the elbow a minute later as the Bears carried that eight-point advantage into the second quarter, 16-8.
Hair drained a triple from the corner a minute into the second period and added one more 3-pointer a few moments later to balloon the advantage to 12 with three minutes remaining in the half.
Frewsburg wouldn't allow Dunkirk to get any closer the rest of the way.
"The kids were really tired, sore and had no legs," Frewsburg coach Jeff Collver said. "It was a good thing Emily was fresh because of her foul trouble, because she kind of kept us going. If it hadn't been for her, we probably would have been down at halftime."
Hair finished the half with a team-leading 10 points. She would finish with 12 points and four assists.
Armed with a 10-point lead heading into the third period, Frewsburg's aim was merely to maintain the lead and make it through the next 16 minutes.
"We really just looked at it as survival," Collver said with a laugh.
For a tired team, the second half couldn't have gone much better.
With Dunkirk in a man-to-man defense, Frewsburg was forced to focus more on driving to the hoop. And with that, came fouls and free throws.
"They went man-to-man, which limited our outside looks a little bit, and then the fouls started racking up," Collver said. "From there, every time there was a timeout we just kept saying, 'Attack, attack, attack.'"
Frewsburg connected on 10 of 13 free throws in the third quarter to build a 46-30 lead, and then poured in 9 of 10 in the fourth to seal the victory.
"We work a lot on free throw shooting," Collver said, "and it's really paid off. It's something that we really focus on because it's free, and there's no reason not to make those."
Taking the most advantage of the situation was all-tournament choice Shawna Raymond, who sunk 8 of 9 free throws (all in the second half) on the way to a team-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds and four steals. Strong rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points, six steals, six rebounds and four assists.
Dunkirk, meanwhile, improved in each quarter, culminating with an 18-point fourth. The main reason behind the success was Lady Marauders' all-tournament selection Lacey Clark, who followed her 19-point, 16-rebound performance from the night before with a 24-point, 17 rebound showing. The senior netted 13 of the Lady Marauders' 18 points in the final period.
"She had her way with us," Collver marvelled. "We didn't do a good job finding her and boxing her out, which I put (blame) on the team (for that), not on any one individual. She's deceivingly strong."
Hair 5 0 12, Strong 4 2 10, Raymond 6 8 21, Steele 1 0 3, Berg 2 5 9, Knight 1 2 4, Johnson 0 4 4. Totals 19 21 63.
Clark 8 8 24, Nance 4 2 10, Bomasuto 3 0 6, Maisonet 2 0 4, Rosas 2 0 4, Ruiz 2 0 4. Totals 19 10 48.
3-point goals: Hair 2, Raymond, Steele.
Frewsburg16 12 18 17 - 63
Dunkirk8 10 12 18 - 48