Thursday, March 25, 2021

Depew Rights The Ship & Runs To Section 6 Class B1 Final

March 24, 2021

Depew 61, Springville-Griffith 50

A Wednesday that started with a plan to attend the 'top half' Section 6 Class B1 semifinal turned into an eventful drive, a last-minute change of plans, and a stop in Depew for the bottom half of the B1 bracket. It proved to be a win-win situation in the 716; while East Aurora was overcoming a double digit deficit at City Honors to earn their berth in the sectional final, 2nd seeded Depew & #6 seed Springville-Griffith provided their own entertaining battle. After losing all of an early 15 point lead, Depew bounced back in the 4th quarter to put their pesky visitors away and lock in a third matchup with EA, this time for all the marbles.

Kaylee Krysztof dropped a game high 20 points, 18 of them coming from beyond the arc, in Depew's sectional semifinal W.

If you turned off the live stream after the 1st quarter, you probably wouldn't have anticipated late-game drama. With Springville giving Depew standout Kaylee Krysztof (Depew 2023) the early treatment, other Wildcats hit shots early & got them off on the right foot. They scored the game's first 10 points, four from Mia Vannelli (Depew 2024), while holding Springville scoreless for the first 4+ minutes of the frame. Paige Banaszak (Depew 2021), who was one of the Wildcats that made Springville pay for good looks early, canned a three at the 1:12 mark to stretch their lead to 19-6. Springville cut the margin to 11 at 19-8 through the first eight minutes on Aaliyah Sansone's (SGI 2024) second bucket of the night.

The visitors bounced back & showed some life in the 2nd quarter with the first of two runs. After Krysztof got loose & hit a three, they kept Depew off the scoreboard for an extended period stretching into the middle of the frame and had four Griffins contribute to a 7-0 run. Sansone capped the spurt with a bucket to make it 22-15 with 3:19 left in the half. Krysztof ended the drought with another triple, then ripped the nets with another one - her 4th of the half - 20 seconds later. A beautiful Krysztof feed to Abby Corcoran (Depew 2022) capped the 8-0 Depew spurt that had Kaylee's prints all over it and gave them their largest lead at 30-15 at the 1:57 mark. Springville went into the locker room on a high note though with their own 8-2 spurt; Layla Gartler (SGI 2023) capped it before the break to bring their deficit back to single digits at 32-23.

Springville started the 2nd half on a tear and extended the late 2nd quarter run into an avalanche. After not hitting a three in the 1st half, they got treys from Meg Rehrauer (SGI 2021) & Nyah Solly (SGI 2021) on consecutive possessions in the first minute of the 3rd quarter. Gartler added a bucket, then Rehrauer finished off a three-point play to give Springville a 34-32 lead with 5:25 left in the 3rd. Another Gartler bucket stretched their edge to 36-32, which capped a 13-0 run to start the half and 21-2 run extending back to the end of the previous quarter. Depew, who got stagnant & went cold for much of the 3rd quarter, started to claw back by getting paint touches & getting to the line. Jessica Kapinos (Depew 2021) got them on the board in the 2nd half by splitting a pair of free throws at the 3:32 mark; she went 4/6 from the line altogether over the next couple minutes, the last make tying it at 38. After Rehrauer split a pair at the line for Springville, Krysztof got her first 2nd half points in the final seconds of the quarter, drilling a right corner three to put Depew up 41-39 going into the final stanza.

The Griffins would tie it again to start the 4th, as Sansone got to the line twice in the first minute & split a pair each time. However, Depew would put their foot on the gas from there. Kapinos converted around the rim at the 6:16 mark, then finished again off a Krysztof feed on their next possession, and Vannelli converted another Krysztof transition dish through contact & completed the three-point play. The 7-0 flurry happened in just 44 seconds and gave Depew a cushion for good. A pair of Sansone buckets got Springville as close as five at 50-45 with 3:21 left and the margin was at seven with 1:57 left after yet another Sansone score, but a deep left wing trey off the right hand of Krysztof on Depew's next possession proved to be as big as it felt in the moment. The three gave the Wildcats a 57-47 lead with 1:27 left, and they put it on ice from there with a Corcoran bucket & Vannelli free throws in the final minute.

Kaylee Krysztof led all scorers with 20 points for Depew, including 6 of their 8 threes. Three other Wildcats joined her in double figures; Mia Vannelli and Paige Banaszak added 11 apiece, and Jessica Kapinos chipped in with 10. Aaliyah Sansone led Springville with 16 points including 8 in the 4th quarter, and Nyah Solly joined her in double digits with 14.

Aaliyah Sansone had a breakout game & led Springville-Griffith with 16 points in Wednesday's narrow setback.


- Double digit lead lost (or double digit deficit overcome, depending on how you look at it), then regained in the final minutes. Big runs, twists & turns, big shots, emotion, intensity... just a good high school basketball game. This may not have been where I initially planned being, but I'm glad I got to see it.

- When Springville gave Kaylee Krysztof the box treatment and other Depew players came out of the gate hitting shots, it felt like it might just be one of those nights. Credit SGI coaching staff for 'reading the room' in this game. I thought their switch to a 3-2 generally paid dividends. Not only did they do a better job getting out to everyone else while not sacrificing a lot on Krysztof, it allowed Nyah Solly, an athletic guard, to play at the top and cause some havoc. She did a good job reading eyes & jumping passing lanes when the opportunity presented itself, and a few of those transition opportunities helped get them going. They lost Kaylee a few times in the 2nd quarter and she made them pay, but they did better with that out of the locker room. Mix that with a solid job containing & keeping the ball out of the paint - throw in some Depew stagnancy too - and that set the stage to change the momentum & get back into the game.

Mia Vannelli had 11 points and gave some big 4th quarter production in Depew's victory.

- The so-called 'little things' went a long way in helping Depew/hurting Springville late. When Depew finally started to see the ball go through the hoop in the 2nd half, they turned up the pressure a bit. Their pressure caused some Springville turnovers, and even when it didn't result in a turnover, it at least caused some discomfort for the Griffins at the offensive end. The free throw line also wasn't kind to Springville in an important stretch; from the :56.7 mark in the 3rd quarter (38-38) to 4:23 left in regulation (48-43 Depew), they went 3/10 from the stripe. After cutting the deficit back to 5 with 3:21 left, Depew got 2nd chance points twice in a row with Kapinos & Banaszak buckets that started with offensive rebounds. SGI may have ran out of gas to an extent - overcoming a 15 point deficit on the road vs. a good team with 8 players isn't exactly a walk in the park. A couple more made FTs in that stretch, securing DRBs out of the zone late, a couple instances of successfully breaking the press & putting pressure on Depew at the other end... not only did they knock on the door & make Depew sweat, but they were that close.

- I've been a fan of Kaylee Krysztof since first watching her play at a NCCC team camp (shoutout to Coach Beutel!) with a bunch of Eden kids. I remember it well; Brooke Woodard wasn't there that day and Nate said 'No Brooke, but you get to watch Krysztof!'. Glad I did. Super skilled PG with perhaps about as pure of a stroke as you'll find in New York, deep range on the jumper, crafty with the ball in her hands, and despite the 20 points (6 threes) jumping off the stat sheet, what caught my eye the most at times in this game was court vision/passing ability. She did it in the half-court, particularly dumping off to the blocks on baseline drives, but it was particularly noticeable in transition, where she dropped a couple well-timed dimes for easy ones. Just a 2023 with over 1,300 points at the varsity level and doesn't hesitate to get others involved. Already brings an advanced skill set, good feel, solid IQ, and is still growing/physically developing... I've had a few D1 coaches in my inbox about Kaylee recently, and with her continued development, there will likely be much more where that came from. With the collaborative effort between X-Gen & I-90, she'll line up with what's turned into a loaded 2023 squad later this spring/summer. Looking forward to seeing that group... but first, sectional final business Friday!

- This was a hell of a day. Initially planned on East Aurora/City Honors, got to somewhere between Exit 48A & 49 on I-90 W, and then... nothing. The Thruway turned into a toll parking lot as the road was closed ahead due to an incident. After not moving for 25 minutes and realizing City Honors was now out of the picture, I improvised... long story short, found out I could get into Depew, pulled a u-turn in the grassy Thruway median, went back east to 48A, eventually got to Depew before tip. I said if the game was half as action-packed as the hour before it was, I'd be in business. It was! Many thanks to give for this. First, a thank you to City Honors coach Kristin Juergens for the work & assistance in regards to getting me in that game. I'll have to watch it on the stream & make up for it going forward! Then, major thanks go to Depew athletic director Robert Skoczylas for allowing me in the gym on very short notice & Julie Krysztof for making the connection happen. It's not the first time traffic has forced me to change plans, but the COVID restrictions throw a major wrinkle in last-minute changes to begin with, then factor in driving across the state... Wednesday is up there on my list of wildest days doing the EST stuff. Worked out for the best!

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