BUFFALO - As a couple members of the media approached Mel Swanson following Saturday's Class D Far West Regional, the longtime Sherman coach didn't even wait for the post-game interview to start.
''That wasn't the team we scouted,'' Swanson said.
Batavia-Notre Dame, the fifth-ranked Class D girls basketball team in New York state, has been terrific all season. But on Saturday the Fighting Irish were a step - or two - above terrific.
Above, Sherman’s Elle Reed streaks to the basket past a Batavia Notre Dame defender during Saturday’s Class D Far West Regional at Buffalo State. Below, Danielle Reed of the Lady Wildcats gets ready to pass past Batavia Notre Dame’s Riley Norton. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Jim Riggs
Melanie Taylor and Riley Norton, Batavia-Notre Dame's top two scorers, each netted eight points as part of a 20-2 run to start the game and the Fighting Irish never looked back, rolling to a 70-32 victory over the Lady Wildcats at Buffalo State College.
Batavia-Notre Dame's win capped a perfect weekend for Section 5 as its five girls basketball sectional champions went 5-0 against their Section 6 counterparts.
''That wasn't the team we scouted,'' Swanson repeated. ''We scouted them and they were 7 for 38 from (3-point range) against a 2-3 zone that didn't come out and get anybody. They shot well today. We got outplayed. We never got in it.''
Batavia-Notre Dame was particularly good in the first and third quarters. It outscored the Lady Wildcats 20-4 in the opening period and 23-7 in the third, pushing its lead to 35 points, 59-24, entering the final period.
''You don't expect a game like this,'' Fighting Irish coach Dave Pero said. ''Sherman is a well-coached, good basketball team and they just didn't have it tonight. It's not because we're that good, it's because it was one of those nights.''
The lopsided score left plenty of time to contemplate the differences between the two schools - mainly that Sherman is a public school while Batavia-Notre Dame is private. The Sherman boys' team also lost to a private school on Saturday, falling 71-55 to University Prep at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
''I guess sometimes it (stinks) to be a public school,'' Swanson said. ''I guess I can say I'm really proud of my kids. We're the Far West Regional public school winners.
''It is tough. It's an inequality. Their players played hard and they were very good players and they did great things with the basketball. But when you're a small school like ours that graduates 30-something kids and you have to compete at that level It's just such a different field they get to draw from. We talk about it in our section a lot because we don't allow (private schools) in.''
Nevertheless, Batavia-Notre Dame (21-2) advances to next weekend's New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four in Troy.
Meanwhile, Sherman (19-3) heads into the offseason, which also means the end of the high school basketball careers for its seniors, including top scorer Elle Reed.
Asked what he will remember about Reed, Swanson said, ''How much fun we had over the last four years and how much of a leader she was. You won't ever forget those memories and those fun times we had.''
Reed finished her final game with 19 points, making 8-of-8 free throws, to once again lead the Lady Wildcats.
Reed's output was more than offset, however, by Taylor's game-high 26 points and Norton's 14.
The Fighting Irish like to fire away from 3-point range and did so on Saturday, hitting eight shots from behind the arc. But they also were successful from inside the arc as they connected on mid-range jumpers and scored on driving layups.
Meanwhile, they gave Laurie Call the assignment of guarding Reed and the junior did enough to hold Reed, who averaged nearly 32 points per game this year, to her season-low in points. Reed fouled out with 2:44 remaining.
''Reed is just phenomenal. She's the best player I've ever seen shoot the ball,'' Pero said. ''We knew we had a defensive player that could maybe put some pressure on her. When you're an offensive player sometimes you have those nights but (Reed's) going to have a great career ahead of her.''
Sherman joined fellow Section 6 champions Jamestown (AA), Grand Island (A), Olean (B) and Randolph (C) in losing in this year's regionals and dropped to 3-7 in the regionals in its history.
''Sometimes you win like a champion and sometimes you have to lose like a champion,'' Swanson said. ''We got outplayed. We really couldn't do much of anything we wanted to do. But 19-3, getting here that's a goal. Obviously, everybody wants to go one step further. When it comes to an end it's never easy, whether it's here or Albany.''
BATAVIA-NOTRE DAME (70)
Call 1 2 4, Taylor 9 7 26, McCracken 2 2 7, RNorton 3 5 14, Welker 0 0 0, Mancuso 2 0 6, Francis 4 0 9, SNorton 1 0 2, Tomaszewski 1 0 2, Bochicchi 0 0 0, DeMartini 0 0 0, Green 0 0 0, Totals 23 16 70.
EReed 5 8 19, DReed 1 0 3, Delcamp 2 0 4, Yaw 1 0 3, Rater 0 0 0, Hannold 0 0 0, Coccarelli 0 0 0, Christmas 0 0 0, Luden 0 3 3, Totals 9 11 32.
3-point goals: RNorton 3, Mancuso 2, Francis, McCracken, Taylor, EReed, DReed, Yaw.
Batavia-Notre Dame 20 16 23 11- 70
Sherman 4 13 7 8- 32