Niagara Gazette — NIAGARA FALLS — There were 10 players on the court Tuesday night in the Wolvarena, but two stole the stage.
Niagara Falls’ Victoria Pryor and Lancaster’s Sarah Saba put on a show in the Section VI Class AA girls basketball quarterfinal, combining for more than half of the total points scored. In the end, Pryor barely out-performed Saba and the second-ranked Wolverines squeaked past the No. 10 Redskins, 57-50, to advance into the semifinals.
Pryor, a senior guard who goes by the nickname “Shmoo,” hit five big 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 29 points on a night when the usually hot-shooting Wolverines (17-2) went cold.
“(Pryor) just took over the game,” said NF coach Mike Esposito. “That’s what I told her great players do, and she did. They left her open, went underneath a lot of screens, and she hit her shots. She was fantastic.”
The one-on-one battle wasn’t a surprise. Pryor entered the game second in Class AA in scoring at 19.1 points per game, followed by Saba at 18.1.
For most of the game, Lancaster’s 6-foot-1 senior — who has committed to Daemen — was able to keep pace, using her size advantage to get to the rim or popping outside for a 3-pointer.
Junior guard Toni Polk, the key cog in the Wolverines’ high-pressure defensive machine, picked up her second four early in the first half. With her on the bench, Niagara Falls struggled to stop Saba. When the Redskins (7-11) did miss, they used a distinct advantage in size to get second chances on the offensive glass.
“When (Polk) came out we had to go zone,” Esposito said. “It took us out of what we wanted to do.”
Niagara Falls entered the fourth quarter trailing 42-39. Polk and Pryor alternated on Saba, holding her to five points, and a 2-2-1 press — which Esposito said he installed at the insistence of former LaSalle High School assistant coach Frank Rotundo — forced key turnovers after an early run put the Wolverines ahead.