GRAND ISLAND — In what's shaping up to be an odd Niagara Frontier League girls basketball regular-season finish, the team destined to face first-place Lockport in the crossover title game in the coming weeks may be decided by the draw of a hat in Executive Director Patrick Burke's office.
That peculiar (and widely unpopular) scenario comes into play following the Lady Vikings' impressive 56-48 victory over the visiting Lewiston-Porter Lady Lancers on Tuesday night. With the win, head coach Kristin Wegrzyn's Lady Vikings improved to 7-2 in the NFL and are 10-4 overall. Head coach Richard Lindamer's rejuvenated Lady Lancers dropped to 7-2 in the NFL and are 13-3 overall.
According to Grand Island Athletics Director Jon Roth, if Lew-Port and Grand Island win out, the NFL Constitution has a tiebreaker in place to determine its Frontier division champion. Lockport has already clinched its Niagara division title.
“The first part of the tie-breaker (between Lew-Port and Grand Island) is head-to-head, which is even,” Roth said. “The next part is your division record, which would be the same, then the third tie-breaker is the best overall (league) record and the fourth is sectional power points and that would be even, because they're in the same classification in the section. What happens is there is a draw which is conducted by (Burke). A representative from GI and Lew-Port can be there and he will draw from a hat a name or logo on a sheet of paper and we go from there.
“That's who (might) play Lockport, unfortunately,” Roth added.
Wegrzyn said first things first, all the teams involved need to take care of business.
“(We lost a game to each other and Lockport and neither of us are overlooking those teams we have left to play, so we gotta finish strong,” Wegrzyn said. “If both teams win out, then it comes down to a draw and that's a pretty crappy way to go out for two teams who've worked extremely hard. That's really a tough way to decide who's gonna go.”
GI senior all-everything Lydia Sweeney was as sharp as ever, canning six 3-point baskets en route to a game-high 26 points in a game the hosts trailed only once in the opening moments.
Every time the Lady Lancers threatened GI's lead, Sweeney was there to drain a tough shot, usually from Three-Point-Land. And she rarely missed, even while being double and triple teamed.
“She's a special kid who puts in a lot of time in the gym,” Wegrzyn said. “That kid is here at 6 a.m before school, after school, before practice and after practice. She's in the gym at least at extra four hours a day, other than our two hours practice. She does help us clinch close games, especially when it gets close. She always seems to make that tough shot, but I'm telling you, she's already done it 50 times before that in the gym that day. We're extremely lucky to have a kid like that whose a gym rat and likes to work.”
Sweeney said her team needed to make some adjustments coming off two straight losses.
“I think the biggest thing was getting in the shots and just making the best out of every possession,” said Sweeney, whose headed to Division II Cedarville in Ohio next fall on a basketball scholarship. She hopes to become a physical education teacher and coach.
Grace Carey added 14 and Sara Frosolone 6 for the Lady Vikings.
Claire Skowronski led the hard-working Lady Lancers with 19 points. Tessa Schuey and Sophie Auer added 9 points apiece.
Despite the loss, Coach Lindamer said his team is still in the mix.
“We've got good ingredients,” Lindamer said. “We're not out of this for the NFL championship. We gotta take care of business and it may come down to a coin flip, but we'd really like to see these girls have that opportunity because they've earned it. They've worked hard since they were in seventh and eighth grade and we're really proud of them.”
Lew-Port's girls basketball program has made a dramatic turn-around over the last several years. After winning just three games four years ago, the team put together a couple of consecutive .500 seasons, then finished 15-7 a year ago, led by Riley Crum (Niagara University), who they lost to graduation this season.
Follow veteran Lockport sports reporter and editor John D'Onofrio on Twitter at @JohnD'onofrio7.