by Larry Austin
Grand Island is one game away from a return to the New York state girls basketball tournament after beating Pioneer 56-38 in the Class A finals at Niagara County Community College Tuesday.
GI will play East High School of Rochester Saturday at noon at Finger Lakes Community College in the Far West Regionals. The winner will advance to the state tourney March 16 to 18 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. GI's season ended there last year in the state semifinals against Peekskill.
Megan Karpie and Cassie Oursler had 14 points each to lead the Vikings over Pioneer. Karpie, a senior guard, made her first six shots from the field to help the Vikings to a 21-10 lead. Most of this time frame was spent without 6-foot 3-inch center Oursler sat the bench in foul trouble for most of the first half.
"Karp did a great job of finishing," Coach Jen Banker said, crediting the offensive output to senior leadership. "You know, Karp's played well all year. They were kind of running three high at Kallie today and without Cassie in there that was opening up some of those other kids and they had to take that shot."
Though GI Coach Jen Banker was disappointed with how her players moved their feet on defense, over an 8 minute and 45 second period of the first half (7:20 left in the first quarter to 6:35 left in the second quarter) the Vikings surrendered only 2 points to the Panthers. GI rolled up a 17-4 lead.
Pioneer ended the first half on a 12-6 run to cut GI's lead to 25-18, but Kallie Banker carved up the Panthers defense in the second half passing for easy baskets in the paint as Pioneer never threatened after their second quarter run. Banker had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. Oursler scored 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter.