080225 NEWFANE HOOPS2

080225 NEWFANE HOOPS2 - SPORTS DOUG BENZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER BUFFALO, N.Y. - Newfane No. 12, Trey Sherrie, is robbed of a rebound by Akron No. 44, J.C. Tretter, at Buffalo State College, Monday, Feb. 25, 2008.

The Niagara Catholic students who joined their girls basketball team at Canisius College’s Koessler Center on Monday had two objectives in mind.

The first was to try to cheer their Patriots to a win over Nardin Academy in Monsignor Martin playoff action. This goal was not completed as Nardin defeated Niagara Catholic 45-41. Secondly, this group of fans wanted to see Patriots senior forward Jen Hare eclipse the 1,000-point mark for her career.

Mission accomplished.

With 1:23 to go in the third quarter and 999 points to her name, Hare had the ball in the lane with the shot-clock winding down. She hoisted up an off-balance jumper as the shot-clock expired. Swish. Hare ran back up the court to an eruption of congratulatory screams from her fellow students. She became the first NC player since Tina Williams (1992-96) to net 1,000 points for her career. Hare finished with six points and nine rebounds for the game.

Niagara Catholic finishes the season at 14-11. Coach Larry Puzan called Hare’s accomplishment “an exclamation and a tribute to her hard work.” He went on to state that his senior forward has, “done so much for the program.”

Despite Hare’s heroics, NC was unable to overcome the superior play of Nardin Academy (13-9). Led by 11 points, including nine in the second half, from sophomore Erin O’Brien, as well as Natalie McGurn’s eight points and six rebounds, the Gators managed to outlast NC down the stretch.

Nardin opened the game with a 10-0 run that didn’t see Niagara Catholic score until nearly five minutes into the contest. Poor foul-shooting and some missed lay-ups allowed NC back into the game, as they cut Nardin’s lead to one, 19-18, going into the half.

“The 10-0 lead just wasn’t big enough. We missed several free-throws and inside shots, and let Niagara Catholic back into the game,” Nardin coach Jake Herlihy said. “Coach Puzan did a great job of keeping his girls’ heads in it. Fortunately, we were able to come away with a win, especially due to Erin’s big second half.”

Niagara Catholic’s near-comeback was led in large part by junior Emily Bird’s 17-point outing, with 15 of them coming in the second half. Mary Cain added six points and 12 rebounds for the Patriots.

Nardin Academy will play Sacred Heart in the next round of the Monsignor Martin Playoffs at 6 p.m. Thursday back at the Koessler Center. The winner of that game will play for the league championship on March 2.

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