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02/14/03 Fairport Girls' Varsity Team is "the team to beat" in Section V

                No. 1 Seed for the sixth time in seven years


Section V girls preview

Red Raiders earn No. 1 seed despite Tuesday loss to Athena

By Jeff DiVeronica
Democrat and Chronicle

(February 14, 2003) — Momentum or motivation.

That was the choice the Fairport girls basketball team had going in to Tuesday’s Monroe County Tournament game against Greece Athena.

If the Red Raiders won, they would have improved to 20-0 going into the Section V Class AA Tournament and added fuel to the theory that while they don’t always hammer opponents, they find ways to keep winning.

A Fairport loss could be used as motivation for sectionals.

Well, the Red Raiders aren’t perfect anymore. They lost 55-49, showing that they are indeed far from invincible. While that might boost the confidence of a few contenders, Fairport is still the team to beat in the Class AA Tournament, which starts Tuesday.

“We need to just play basketball and don’t think about all the other things -- just play,” senior forward Lindsay Ellis said at Friday’s Kodak Section V Girls Basketball Pairings Luncheon, where the Raiders were unveiled as a No. 1 seed for the sixth time in seven years.

But Fairport’s armor was dented Tuesday. Athena came back from a five-point halftime deficit to outscore the Raiders 37-26 in the second half, avenging a 58-47 loss on Jan. 7.

The Trojans (17-3), runners-up last year to an upstart Churchville-Chili team, are the No. 2 seeds and Penfield (16-4) a dangerous No. 3 seed. The Patriots lost to Fairport by eight points in December but were narrowly beaten, 52-47, just 10 days ago. They also were nudged in overtime, 57-55, on Feb. 8 against Athena.

Athena bounced Penfield, 59-47 in last year’s quarterfinals.

“It definitely brought up our confidence level,” Athena’s Katie Pauly said of the win over Fairport.

Fairport and Athena share plenty of similarities:
-- Each club has a veteran starting lineup and a thin bench.

Fairport starts five seniors, led by four-year starters in Ellis (14.1 points per game, 10 rebounds), guard-forward Liz Hahn (11.5 ppg) and point guard Sabrina Boykin (11.5 ppg), a defensive pest.

Pauly (13 ppg) is Athena’s top threat but guard Lyndsay Dalton (12 ppg) and sophomore forward Corrine Keller (10 ppg) are capable of big games. On Tuesday, guard Lyndsey Gallina (10 ppg) scored 21 points.
-- Each has a first-year coach who succeeded successful coaches. Fairport’s Kermit Moyer took over for Karen Thull (four sectional titles in six years) and Mike Butler replaced Al Best, the winningest girls basketball coach in Section V history (389 victories).
-- Each has something to prove.

Athena hasn’t won a crown since 1995.

Fairport’s leaders were part of one title team, as sophomores, but they were carried by then-junior Caitlin Howe before her knee injuries. This group has been successful but has yet to win a sectional without Howe.

“Something has kind of set us back every year,” Ellis said.

Said Hahn: “I told Lindsay I didn’t want to cry on her shoulder again. I’m sick of making excuses for why we didn’t win.”

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