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02/26/03 Athena soars over Penfield into AA final

By Jeff DiVeronica
Democrat and Chronicle

(February 26, 2003) — After a couple of airballs and a turnover, the Greece Athena girls were behind 4-0 barely two minutes into Tuesday’s Class AA basketball semifinals. Coach Mike Butler called a timeout.

“Stop playing like you’re afraid,” he said.

His team listened.

The second-seeded Trojans outscored No. 3 Penfield 26-9 the rest of the half and went on to a 54-31 rout at Webster Schroeder High. Athena (19-3) will take a 12-game winning streak into Monday’s 8:30 p.m. Section V Tournament title game against No. 1 Fairport (21-1).

“We weren’t playing the confidence that we should have,” said Athena forward Lyndsay Dalton, who scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half by using her speed to drive past defenders and leaping ability to finish.

JAMIE GERMANO


Greece Athena’s Lyndsay Dalton (on the floor) is called for a blocking foul against Penfield’s Ashley McMillan (32). Athena moved into the Class AA final with a 54-31 win.

It was Athena, after all, that edged Penfield (17-5) 57-55 in overtime on Feb. 8. And it was Athena that was last year’s sectional runner-up, a team that returned five starters, including four seniors and sophomore Corrine Keller.

Penfield had just one senior starter, Ashley McMillen, and played that way. The Patriots committed 15 turnovers and had a horrible shooting night from the field (11-for-45) and free-throw line (8-for-17). They scored just 19 points in the first three quarters and trailed by 15 points.

“I definitely think experience was a factor,” said Keller, who is in her third varsity season.

She kept watch on McMillen, who was ice cold along with point guard Danielle Graunke, and Lauren Sopko and Ashley Bourgeois contained Graunke (four points). McMillen scored 13 points, four below her average, but had only five at halftime as Athena built a 26-13 cushion.

Bourgeois scored seven big points off the bench for Athena and Keller, who is quick and strong, was another matchup problem. She had 12 points and seven rebounds.

“Our coach (Mike Butler) designs plays for us to take it to the basket, but I think we recognize also when we’re quicker,” Keller said.

Athena senior Katie Pauly scored 11 of her 13 points after intermission and grabbed eight boards. Led by her 6-for-6 accuracy, Athena made its last 14 free throws in the final 6:10 to make sure Penfield didn’t have a chance to come back and Athena would have another championship chance.

“All we want to do, our whole goal has been to win sectionals,” Dalton said.

E-mail address: jdiveron@DemocratandChronicle.com