GRAPPLING FOR POSSESSION — Springville-Griffith Institute’s Tia Woodarek fights for the ball with a Cheektowaga player, during a recent game. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute varsity basketball girls continued their winning ways by defeating Cheektowaga and Lake Shore, to extend their winning streak to four games. Springville topped Cheektowaga 54-36 on Jan. 17, to avenge an earlier loss to the Warriors. Cheektowaga hit a game-winner, with 9 seconds left in the team’s first meeting, to edge out Springville. This time, Springville controlled the game, from start to finish.
The Lady Griffs came out firing in the first quarter, as Erin Kwiatkowski knocked down two midrange jumpers and Alena Woodarek hit one from the corner. Springville took a 12-6 lead, after one quarter, and took a 26-13 advantage into halftime. Cheektowaga’s 13 points in the first 16 minutes was the least number of points they’ve scored in the first half, all season.
“The last few games, we’ve really started to hit our stride defensively, in being better at what we want to do,” said Springville coach Chris Mathewson. “When someone drives, we really want to be in the gap and attack the dribble with our feet and not reach. Early in the season, we were reaching too much. Once we get a sense of what we’re doing, we’re pretty good at that. We have such an athletic team. We did a great job of turning defensive stops into transition buckets.”
The Springville ladies had one of their best showings offensively, this season. Outside shooting was a big part of that; Springville had 12 of their 20 field goals from outside of the paint.
“We’ve worked on our shooting a lot, lately,” said Mathewson. “Someone a lot smarter than me once said, ‘You can never practice shooting too much.’ We devoted a lot of time in practice to shooting. It’s really starting to pay off and the girls are getting more comfortable. They’re catching, getting their feet set and they’re ready to shoot. Sometimes we rush, but when we do everything right, we can shoot the ball very well.”
Alena Woodarek had a season-high 17 points for the Lady Griffs and pulled down eight rebounds. Woodarek went 4-of-6 on jumpers, including a 3 in the third quarter. Woodarek is Springville’s leading scorer this season, averaging 10 points per game.
“She’s one of the girls whose shot has improved because of our increased focus on shooting,” Mathewson noted. “She’s asked for a lot of help on her shot and we’ve worked from the ground up on it, working on her feet, her follow-through and pointing at the target. The thing with Alena is, she’s go-go-go, 100 miles per hour, so when she needs to shoot, she has to slow down and gather herself. She’s doing a lot better with that and it’s showing.”
Springville held Cheektowaga to a season-low 36 points in the game, forcing 16 steals. Cheektowaga averages 55 points a game, which leads Erie County Interscholastic Conference III. The team has four players averaging double figures: Andrea Montgomery, at 13 points per game; Mykia Lee, at 11.6, Taliyah Hopkins at 10 and Markayla Feaster at 11.7. The four combine to average 46.5 points per game and were held to 29, against Springville. Montgomery scored 24 points in Springville’s first meeting with Cheektowaga, and was limited to 7 points, the second time around.
“We know what our identity is now: Be scrappy on defense,” Mathewson noted. “If we aren’t shooting the ball well, our offense will catch up. In our games against Amherst and Lake Shore, where we weren’t getting good looks in the first half, our defense played well enough and kept us in the game. In the second half, we were getting better looks and were under better control. That kind of trickled into the start of this one.”
Kwiatkowski scored 14 points and Heaven Rollek notched a double-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Tainne Dallas dished out five assists, in the victory.
On Jan. 21, Springville extended its winning streak to four games, following a 50-37 win over Lake Shore. Lake Shore led by 10 at halftime, but Springville would outscore that team 36-14, in the second half. Dallas knocked down 3 3-pointers in the frame, to will Springville to take the lead. Dallas led Springville with 12 points, drilling 4 3-pointers. Tia Woodarek was close behind, with 11 for Springville.
“We turned the ball over way too much, in the first half,” said Mathewson. “We settled down with that, in the second half. I told them that we had to be patient with our offense, even though we might not get rewarded right away and we didn’t, on our first few offensive [possessions]. But we had a good series; we had some good looks. The biggest thing was Tainne had 3 [3-pointers] in the third quarter and that energized us.”
Springville is now 7-4 overall and 5-4 in league which puts the team in second place in ECIC III. The Lady Griffs lost three of their first four league games, but have settled in, going 6-1 overall in their last seven games. East Aurora owns sole possession of first place, with an undefeated 7-0 record in league play. “We had four league losses earlier and we have to take responsibility and deal with that,” said Mathewson. “The girls have put themselves in a good position, by playing some good basketball of late to get here.”
Springville traveled to Depew on Jan. 23.