CAN’T BLOCK THAT SHOT — S-GI’s Erin Kwiatkowski pops up a shot against a West Seneca defender, during a recent game. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — One day after falling to undefeated East Aurora, Springville-Griffith Institute knocked off undefeated Amherst, in girls varsity hoops. Springville took down the previously undefeated Tigers 44-41 on Jan. 10, to improve to 2-4 in the league and 4-4 overall, with the win.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Alena Woodarek drilled a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Griffs their first lead of the game at 33-30. Woodarek hit 2 free throws, with 12 seconds left, to ice the game.
“All credit goes to the girls,” said Springville coach Chris Mathewson. “They were challenged by both me and their play and took a hard look at themselves. [They] went out and, from the first moment to the last, were the more aggressive, persistent and disciplined team.
“I speak highly enough of the character it takes for them to take responsibility for their play, take that anger and transfer it into a pretty dynamic team defensive effort – holding Amherst 12 points below their average. That reflects on our captain and the other seniors on the team.”
Springville trailed 20-12 at halftime, but would outscore Amherst 32-21, in the second half. Alena Woodarek scored 8 of her game-high 14 points in the second half, while Erin Kwiatkowski scored all 11 of her points after halftime.
“Our defense frustrated them all game, but in the second half, it wore them down and we were able to turn defense into offensive transitions, early in the half,” Mathewson said.
“When we had to run half-court sets and get quality possessions in the fourth, we were able to convert on a higher percentage than early in the game.”
THAT BALL IS MINE — S-GI’s Megan Hanrahan grapples for the ball, against a West Seneca player.
Tia Woodarek had 9 points and 10 rebounds. Heaven Rollek added five steals, in the win.
One day earlier, on Jan.9, Springville lost to East Aurora 46-32. East Aurora stormed out to a 13-4 lead and wouldn’t trail for the rest of the game. Springville and East Aurora came into the game after not practicing in a week, as well as not playing in a game since late December, because of the weather.
“In these circumstances, you rarely get a well-played game by both teams,” said Mathewson. “Usually it’s ugly on both sides of the ball or one team comes out shooting the ball really well. We put too much of our early focus on our own misses, had some sloppy unforced turnovers and they shot the ball well early.”
Kwiatkowski led Springville in scoring, with 14 points. She got off to a slow start, this season, but has been heating up. The senior guard is averaging nearly 11 points per game, in her last four outings, after averaging 3 points per contest, in her first four games.
“Erin has been playing well lately,” said Mathewson. “She’s been working much harder on defense, which has given us, as a team, more flexibility in terms of rotating girls with different combos and seems to be feeding into a better offensive rhythm for her.
“She’s always been a scoring threat, but she’s starting to believe more in her defensive skills and the efforts starting to pay off for her,” the coach added.
Eight games into the season, Springville is 4-4 overall and 2-4 in league play. Springville’s division, ECIC III, has been one of the most competitive divisions, thus far. All eight teams still have a shot at the division title, with all teams separated by three wins or fewer.
Mathewson said he is looking for his team to improve on its even record, in the second half of the season.
“The way the girls responded to the disappointment of Thursday [against East Aurora], by their play on Friday [against Amherst] is encouraging,” the coach said.
“If we can duplicate our efforts on Friday, we have a chance to move up in the league standings. We’ve had second-half comebacks in games. I’m confident, with the right focus, we can have a better second half of the season and improve on our .500 record.”
Springville played Lake Shore on Jan. 15, before hosting Cheektowaga on Jan. 17.