The Randolph Lady Cardinals basketball team posed for a postgame photo near its bench at Jamestown High School's McElrath Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Two of the biggest grins belonged to senior Mandy Finch and junior Santana France.
The girls had reason to smile broadly.
Mandy Finch of Randolph fires up a shot during Tuesday night’s Section 6 Class C championship game against Frewsburg. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Frewsburg’s Reyanne Strong shoots against Randolph in Tuesday night’s Section 6 Class C championship game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
For while sophomore sensation McKenna Maycock (36 points, 13 rebounds, five assists) continued her postseason for the ages, it was Finch and France who spearheaded a decisive 12-2 fourth-quarter run that propelled defending champion Randolph to a 65-57 victory over arch-rival Frewsburg in the Section 6 Class C crossover contest before a standing-room-only crowd.
The win advances the Lady Cardinals (19-3) into the Class C Far West Regional at 5:30 p.m., Friday at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. Their opponent will be Bishop Kearney, which posted a 50-45 win over Keshequa in the Section 5 title game last night.
The Bears, who split two nail-biters with Randolph during the regular season, end the year 19-3.
And just when it appeared the revved-up crowd would be treated to another fantastic finish - Frewsburg had rallied from a 12-point third-quarter deficit to take a 48-45 lead with 6 minutes to go - the Lady Cardinals regained control, thanks, in large measure, to Finch and France.
''I believed in them and, like always, they stepped up,'' Randolph coach Shawn Huntington said. ''They always play hard. They're awesome.''
After Frewsburg junior Emily Hair drained a 3-pointer to give the Bears the three-point lead, Randolph went to work.
Senior Megan Fisher scored on a putback, and France had a layup and a corner jumper sandwiched around a pair of Finch layups. Frewsburg senior McKenzie Cass stopped the momentum temporarily with a short jumper, but Maycock drove strong to the basket, pushing the Lady Cardinals' lead to 57-50 with 2:24 remaining.
The Bears never got closer than three points the rest of the way.
Maycock, who has scored 130 points in four playoff games, drilled a trey with 48 seconds remaining and canned three of four free throws in the closing moments, while Finch added a pair of charity tosses to seal the victory and send Randolph on to the regional.
Finch finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while France added eight points, six of which came during the decisive fourth quarter.
The Bears had four players in double figures, led by senior Shawna Raymond's 20 points. Seniors Annie Berg and Reyanne Strong both added 12 points while Hair finished with 11.
In the early going, Maycock showed off her considerable talents, draining three treys - all from well beyond the arc - on her way to 15 first-quarter points. After eight minutes, the Lady Cardinals led 20-12, an advantage that grew to 34-24 by halftime.
''We had so many turnovers early that we definitely weren't expecting,'' Frewsburg coach Jeff Collver said. ''We were averaging just over 10 in the playoffs, so we definitely weren't expecting 10 in the first half. Against a team like Randolph, they're going to make you pay for those.''
But typical of one of the section's best rivalries, this game got close in a hurry.
Trailing 41-30 midway through the third quarter, Frewsburg finished the period on a 13-2 run that tied the game, 43-all. Raymond had five points, Strong four, and Berg and Hair two apiece during the rally. A layup by Berg and a trey by Hair, sandwiched around a France jumper, to begin the final period gave the Bears a 48-45 lead.
''I told them that (Frewsburg) was going to come back,'' Huntington said. ''It's not like they might. They were going to.''
Added Collver: ''We fought back, but we missed a couple layups that were really backbreakers as far as momentum was concerned. ... We had a chance to answer every one of those (Randolph baskets) and we weren't able to. The kids played their guts out. You can't ask anymore than that.''
While the Bears' season ends - Collver must say goodbye to six seniors - the Cardinals continue another deep playoff run on Friday at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
''They know what they have to do,'' Huntington said. ''They just have to go out and execute.''
NOTES: Raymond finished with eight rebounds, five steals and five assists; Strong seven boards and four assists; and Berg six rebounds and six steals. ... The Bears shot 22-of-60 from the field, but only 4-of-20 in the second quarter.
France 3 2 8, Finch 4 5 14, Maycock 13 5 36, Steward 1 0 2, Marsh 0 1 1, PTerrette 0 0 0, ATerrette 0 0 0, Fisher 2 0 4, Totals 23 13 65.
Raymond 7 3 20, Hair 5 0 11, Cass 1 0 2, Strong 6 0 12, Berg 3 6 12, Johnson 0 0 0, Totals 21 9 57.
3-point goals-Finch, Maycock 5, Hair, Raymond 3.
Randolph20 14 9 22 - 65
Frewsburg 12 12 19 14 - 57