Niagara Gazette — The Lady Falcons opened the scoring and led for most of the first quarter as Pawlak led the way with 10 points in the opening stanza, but Lockport senior Lexi Cheatham (20 points, 2 assists, 3 steals) canned the first of her four 3-point baskets and junior forward Sara Franco (17 points, 9 rebounds) added two inside buckets as the teams headed to the second tied 15-15.
Pawlak opened the second quarter with a 3 that seemed to ignite the Lady Falcons' offense as they proceeded to out-score Lockport 11-0 in the first three minutes to lead 26-15. Moments later, Pawlak swished her second 3-pointer of the stanza and N-W had its biggest lead of the game at 13, 29-16.
But Franco owned the second half of the second quarter, canning four inside buckets, including a buzzer beater off a nice feed from senior Carly Kane (4 rebounds) as the Lady Lions finished with an 11-2 run to trail by just four at halftime, 31-27.
Quick buckets by freshman Gretta Dry (6 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) and senior Allie Cavagnaro (2 points, 2 rebounds) quickly tied the game, but Smith hit three buckets and Pawlak launched another 3-pointer as the Lady Falcons rolled to a 42-37 lead after three.
Cheatham was a one-women scoring machine in the fourth, scoring all of Lockport's 10 points with a pair of 3s, but Smith's clutch 3-pointer down the stretch broke a 47-47 tie with over a minute to go and neither team could find the basket after that. Dry's running one hander down the lane was rebounded by Czaja as the clock hit 0:00 and a wild Niagara-Wheatfield celebration ensued.
“They came out hard. It's hard beating a team three straight times. They weren't going to go down a third time,” said Kane, who along with Cheatham and Cavagnaro played their final basketball games for Lockport.
Added retiring Lady Lions head coach Bill Shaw, “We didn't deserve to win. This is two games in a row where we didn't play well and we didn't execute well. You're going to get beat when you don't play well.”
Friday's AA girls semifinals were moved to Ken West after a leak broke out in the Sweet Home gymnasium late last week, forcing the venue change. No. 1 Jamestown defeated No. 5 Williamsville North, 78-37, in the late semifinal game Friday night.