When Sherman Lady Wildcat Elle Reed came out of Saturday's Section 6 Class D girls basketball championship game with two minutes remaining at Jamestown High School on Saturday, coach Mel Swanson met her courtside with an embrace.
A goal had been realized - a ticket punched to the Far West Regionals next Saturday at Buffalo State.
Elle Reed of Sherman puts up a shot in Saturday’s Section 6 Class D girls basketball championship game against Pine Valley. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"We've been working for this game," Swanson said. "It's been two years and we've been working to get back to the regionals since we lost to Whitesville. She really felt bad last year when she went down and couldn't play in the playoffs, so she's really been hungry for this game."
The second-seeded Lady Wildcats (19-2) used Reed's 29 points and a defense that held the fourth-seeded Pine Valley Lady Panthers (12-9) to nine first-half points in a 60-37 win. Sherman secured its third Class D title in five seasons.
"It's always the greatest thing going whenever this happens," Swanson said. "The girls are excited. We didn't win one last year - we got knocked out of the playoffs early by Pine Valley- so this is a sweet win."
From the opening tip, Reed took over and claimed Sherman's first five points while Pine Valley struggled.
A Laura Killock jumper 1:04 into the opening period would be the only points the Lady Panthers scored in the opening frame despite holding the Lady Wildcats without a field goal for the final 5:18 of the stanza.
"We did not shoot very well," Pine Valley coach Tim Nobles said. "We missed foul shots right at the beginning, we played very, very tentative on offense and defense in the first half."
Sherman took a 13-2 advantage into the second quarter as Pine Valley quickly entered foul trouble. A call on Aaren Waterman with 7:02 remaining in the first half was the Lady Panthers' eighth team foul.
"The fouls were a little uneven," Nobles said. "That didn't help matters. When we can't score on offense, our defense has to pick it up. We were not rebounding, we were not crashing the boards."
Reed wrapped up the first half with a pair of jumpers to give the Lady Wildcats a 32-9 advantage heading into the locker room.
It appeared as if the whistles that chased Pine Valley in the first half would turn around and do the same to Sherman in the second as Julia Rater began the third quarter by racking up three fouls in 2:03.
However, two 3-pointers by Reed and a Danielle Reed jumper propelled Sherman to a commanding 48-22 advantage after 24 minutes.
"Defense was outstanding," Swanson said. "We gave up some baskets later after the game was pretty much decided but the girls played great defense. All of them."
Saturday marked the fourth consecutive season in which the Lady Panthers made the Class D final and failed to win.
"In the second half, we played a lot better," Nobles said. "We played almost in a sense of 'let's not lose it' instead of 'let's go out and win it.' I'm not really sure why. We almost played as if the game was too big for us."
Laural Killock scored nine points to lead Pine Valley while Alex Bentham tallied seven in a losing effort.
Bridget Yaw added 13 points for the Lady Wildcats in the win.
Sherman will meet the winner of Monday's Section 5 Class D final between Batavia-Notre Dame and Mount Morris next weekend. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. at Buffalo State.
"The dream of going to Albany and Hudson Valley (for States) is what all kids have," Swanson said. "We're one win away from there."