Lady T-Birds Are Relaxed Heading Into First Regional

By Jeremy Izzo

The Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds will take to the court tonight to face the Keshequa Lady Indians at Finger Lakes Community College for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

The game will mark the Lady Thunderbirds’ first appearance in the Class C Far West Regionals, but coach Eric Schuster is confident his team will be ready once the game begins.

“In practice we’ve been keeping things real all week,” he said. “There is a fine line between being too serious and too loose. We shortened up practice this week and have been going for about an hour to an hour and a half. From here on out everything is a bonus so I think the girls are relaxed. We are looking forward to it.”

Chautauqua Lake enters the contest as the No. 4-ranked Class C team in the state while Keshequa holds the No. 5 ranking.

The statistics also show two evenly matched teams.

Chautauqua Lake has lost only one game this season and sports a 20-1 record. Keshequa also has just one blemish on its record and currently sits at 21-1.

On defense, the Lady Thunderbirds are giving up 33 points per game compared to the Lady Indian’s 32 points allowed per game.

Both teams have gone on 17-game winning streaks this season.

Chautauqua Lake’s last and only loss came on Dec. 20 when they fell to Jamestown – a Class AA school – by a score of 57-46.

Keshequa won its first 17 games of the season before being upset by Geneseo, 46-42, in the last game of the regular season.

Where the Lady Thunderbirds appear to have an advantage is on offense. They are averaging 67 points per game while the Lady Indians have averaged just under 52 points per game.

Size could also play a role and Chautauqua Lake’s combination of juniors Jenna Einink and Ashton Albanesius should play a deciding role in the outcome.

“I scouted them in January and from what I could see they didn’t have much size,” Schuster said. “With our size, and their lack of size, we’ll be trying to get the ball inside early and often. We won’t be doing anything we haven’t done all season.”

Five-foot-10 Einink enters tonight’s game averaging over 19 points a game to lead the Lady Thunderbird offense. She has also been a force on the boards by pulling down nearly 12 rebounds per contest.

Albanesius (5-9) is averaging more than 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The one-two combination of Einink and Albanesius in the post has been a big reason why the Lady Thunderbirds are one win away from reaching the state semifinals.

Keshequa is led by junior guard Tessa Gordinier, who is averaging 17 points, eight rebounds and five steals per game.

Also in the Lady Indians’ backcourt is Shannon Gordinier. Shannon enters tonight’s contest averaging 11 points and more than five steals per game.

Chautauqua Lake’s talented frontcourt and the backcourt of Keshequa should provide an interesting contrast in styles.

The winner of tonight’s game will travel to Hudson Valley CC for a state semifinal contest on March 15 at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of the Section 1 vs. Section 8 regional matchup.

The Class D State final will be held at 1:45 p.m. on March 16.