BUFFALO — On a team full of shooters, Katelyn Storer is usually Randolph’s fifth option offensively.
On Saturday, the senior forward scored the Cardinals’ biggest basket — potentially of their season.
Storer took a pass from sophomore Quinn Pence in the lane and scored underneath the basket before Randolph survived Pavilion’s final possession to beat the Golden Gophers 42-40 in the Class C Far West Regional at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
“I knew one of us was going to hit a shot. … Katelyn Storer stepped up and hit that last shot,” Randolph senior Kyra Pence said postgame. ” … Our defense is so strong, I knew we would finally get that stop and win that game.”
The win vaults the Section VI champions into next weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four at Hudson Valley Community College. Randolph, which last reached the semifinals in 2012, will take on Section IV Union Springs at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday at the McDonough Sports Complex. Section II Greenwich will take on Section IX Millbrook in that day’s second semifinal.
“Two years ago when we won it in our own gym we felt like we could’ve gone quite a long way,” Kyra Pence said of the Cardinals’ 2021 sectional title. “Last year, it was kind of sad. This year, we had to make it worth it … and go to states.”
Having already watched their boys team claim the regional title on the bus, the Cardinals capped a Randolph sweep in Class C. Now, a large portion of the Cattaraugus County town will be looking for hotel rooms in the Capital District.
“Both the boys and girls have played basketball since they were little kids. In third grade, they started playing together. We’ve dreamed about this, going to states with both programs,” head coach David Pihlblad said. ” … It’s so cool right now for Randolph, the community and the girls. It’s such a cool moment.”
The Cardinals built a large lead early, and needed every single one of those points as Saturday’s tilt reached the fourth quarter.
Pavilion’s Karlee Zinkievich hit a 3-pointer on the Golden Gophers’ first possession of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 29 after Randolph led 25-13 at halftime, but scored just 4 points in the third quarter.
With the Cardinals in the midst of an 0-for-10 stretch from 3-point range, Pavilion took its first lead since 4-2 when Ella Tillotson scored her lone bucket of the game with 5:24 remaining.
Finally, Quinn Pence’s third 3-pointer of the game broke Randolph’s drought and gave the Cardinals a 32-31 lead with 4:16 left. Zinkievich hit a pair of free throws to give the Golden Gophers a one-point lead with 3:39 left, but Skylar Herington’s 3-pointer gave Randolph a two-point advantage.
“We were getting good looks, they just weren’t falling. We kept telling the girls: ‘Something is going to fall eventually. Keep shooting with confidence,’” Pihlblad said. “One went in and it just kind of changed the momentum. … Quinn hit a big one.”
Lauren Kingsley then hit a pair of foul shots to tie the game before Herington’s mid-range jumper and Quinn Pence’s fourth 3-pointer of the game gave the Cardinals a five-point advantage with 2:33 remaining.
“She hasn’t hit anything in probably three or four games. She’s a great shooter and she always seems to step up in the biggest moments,” Pihlblad said. “Somebody had to hit a shot and Quinn stepped up.”
Kingsley scored on a putback on Pavilion’s next possession and then, with 41 seconds remaining, Zinkievich hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 40-all.
Randolph then missed a go-ahead attempt, but grabbed the offensive rebound and Pihlblad called timeout with 20.9 seconds to go. The ensuing play eventually found Quinn Pence, who drove the lane, and passed to Storer when Kingsley stepped out to defend.
“The play completely broke down. Our girls play basketball, they play so well … any time Lauren Kingsley steps, Katelyn is going to be open,” Pihlblad said. “That was a great pass and a great finish. … It was awesome for Katelyn … she doesn’t get a ton of credit, but she made a huge play to win the game.”
“The big was stepping up the whole game … Quinn attacked and found Katelyn,” Kyra Pence added. “It finally worked out and we ended the game like that.”
After Storer’s bucket, the Golden Gophers advanced the ball and inbounded twice after the Cardinals fouled, but a rushed 3-point attempt was rebounded by Randolph, which eventually dribbled out the clock.
“We had fouls to give,” Kyra Pence said, “so we wanted to play good defense and not let them get a shot off.”
NOTES: Randolph shot 17 of 56 (30.4%) from the field, including 8 of 32 (25%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 11 times. Herington had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists; Quinn Pence had 12 points, eight steals and three assists; and Morrison had 8 points, six rebounds and three steals. … Pavilion shot 15 of 38 (39.5%) from the field, including 3 of 9 (33%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 18 times. Kingsley had 20 points and Zinkievich had 15 for the Golden Gophers.
Tillotson 1 0 2, Zinkievich 5 2 15, Conway 1 0 2, Kingsley 8 4 20, Washburn 0 1 1. Totals 15 7 40.
KPence 1 0 2, Bowles 0 0 0, QPence 4 0 12, Storer 3 0 6, Steward 0 0 0, Morrison 3 0 8, Herington 6 0 14, Dickerson 0 0 0. Totals 17 0 42.
3-point goals–Zinkievich 3, QPence 4, Morrison 2, Herington 2.
Pavilion 6 7 13 14 — 40
Randolph 15 10 4 13 — 42
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