Top-seeded Palmyra-Macedon held off the gutsy, determined and undersized Batavia Lady Blue Devils tonight to capture the Section V Class B1 girls’ basketball tournament crown on the Wayne County school’s home court.
Despite a decided height disadvantage, Head Coach Marty Hein’s team scrapped and clawed its way back from a double-digit deficit to pull within three points with 2 ½ minutes to play, but could get no closer – eventually falling by a 49-38 score.
The loss was Batavia’s second in as many years to Pal-Mac, which defeated the Lady Devils, 58-48, in the 2020 sectional quarterfinals.
It also marked the end of the Mackenzie Reigle and Bryn Wormley era (from right to left in photo above) that saw both star guards come up to the varsity as seventh-graders and, less than two weeks ago, saw both reach the 1,000-point mark for their careers.
As would be expected, both were inconsolable for several minutes after the final buzzer sounded.
“We had a great season. It didn’t end how we wanted it do; we came up short but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Reigle, the team’s point guard who scored18 points against the Red Raiders’ strong man-to-man defense. “I love this team. It sucks coming up short but it was a fun season considering the circumstances.”
While the loss was disappointing in itself, Reigle said she is saddened by the fact that about nine years of bouncing the ball with Wormley have come to an end.
“There’s nothing I’ll miss more than playing with Bryn. We’ve been playing together since the third grade and I hope we’ll get a chance to play against each other in college,” she said.
Reigle will be attending Geneseo State College and Wormley has enrolled at St. John Fisher, and both intend to continue playing the sport they love.
Wormley, who scored 10 points tonight, including a three-point shot that sliced Pal-Mac’s lead to 39-36 with 3:27 to play, called it a “blessing that we were able to play together for so long.”
“That was something really special and I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” she said.
Hein said Reigle and Wormley set their bar high, giving it all to get to 1,000 points and then striving for a sectional title after watching, as seventh-graders, “two of the best players that Batavia has had in Tiara Filbert and Maddie McCulley when we won the sectional title in 2016.”
Calling it “heartbreaking that we’re coming home in second,” Hein said he appreciated how hard this team, which includes seven seniors, worked during this short season to reach the finals. Batavia, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, finishes with a 10-5 record.
“I watched everyone of these girls progress,” he said. “Tess (Barone) and Bella (Houseknecht) are two of the hardest working players in basketball. Haylee (Thornley) suffered through two ACL injuries and it took two years away from her basketball and to see how far she has come after that devastation. Kennedy (Kolb), we had for four years on varsity.”
Hein said he plans to return for an eighth season at the helm, but looks forward to a night or two with no games on the schedule to be able to watch Reigle and Wormley in collegiate action.
As far as tonight’s game, senior guard/forward Sophie Lyko scored 13 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter as Pal-Mac took a 15-10 lead, and added four more points in the first four minutes of the second quarter to spark the home team to a 23-12 advantage.
Batavia rallied, however, as Reigle sank two three-pointers in the last minute to cut the deficit to 26-20 at halftime.
A 15-footer by Thornley and a driving layup by Reigle to start the third quarter made it 26-24, before the Red Raiders outscored Batavia 9-3 the rest of the way to stretch the lead to 35-27.
There was no quit in the visitors, however, as Reigle scored two baskets and Kolb swished an 18-footer to pull Batavia within two at 35-33 with 4:40 to play. Grace Seither and Lyko scored inside to make it 39-33 before Reigle hit from beyond the three-point line.
Pal-Mac’s Tatum Smyth got a friendly bounce off the front rim at 2:55 before Barone converted a pass from Reigle to make it 41-38 with 2:35 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Lady Devils, that was the end of their scoring as they missed five shots down the stretch. Pal-Mac controlled the boards – holding Batavia to one shot on each trip down the floor while grabbing three offensive rebounds that led to a layup by 6-foot-1 junior Ryley Trail and game-sealing free throws by seniors Seither and Lyko.
“Our lack of size kind of plagued us all season,” Hein said. “We help and we overcommit with the help and now on the weak side, we’re too far underneath the basket and we’re not taller than anybody so we’re losing that fight. We just give up those weak side rebounds and that hurt us a bunch.”
Wormley agreed that Pal-Mac’s length made a big difference.
“When you’ve got three girls at 6 foot or taller and we play small ball – we started all guards (with the tallest at 5-8) – sometimes against those big girls, there’s not much you can do about it,” she said. “We played well in spurts but against those big girls, you can box them out all you want but it’s tough.”
Pal-Mac Head Coach Dan Harris also mentioned that his girls asserted themselves on the boards and “that led to some offensive rebounds and second and third chances, and that obviously was the difference.”
He was quick to point out the Lady Devils’ tenacity in its pressing defense and the team's athleticism.
“Those kids are very well coached and they had a lot of returning players that, unfortunately, their careers are over, but they play so hard, so well. And they’re so athletic and they have great basketball skills, too, which is a dangerous combination,” he said.
Reigle had six assists and five rebounds to go with her 18 points while Wormley grabbed six rebounds and Thornley had four points and four rebounds.
Reigle on the fast break, ahead of Pal-Mac's Grace Seither (14) and Tatum Smyth (2) and teammate Bryn Wormley.
Wormley stretching out as she battles Pal-Mac forwards Sophie Lyko (21) and Ryley Trail (22).
Lyko and Batavia's Haylee Thornley jockey for position.
Head Coach Marty Hein draws up a play late in the game.
Bottom four photos by Steve Ognibene.
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