Final Battle Of Legends Goes To Gates-Chili

- After five seasons and nearly a dozen head-to-head matchups, Cierra Dillard and Margot Hetzke met on a Section Five basketball court for the final time Monday night. 

The court was the Pittsford Sutherland varsity gym. The game was the Class AA semifinals. It was the fourth consecutive year Gates-Chili and Penfield met in sectionals. The last three were all championship games. 

The game was a worthy final chapter to two great careers. Neither player and neither team deserved to lose, but someone had to go home with a loss. 

Dillard scored 12 points and (4)Gates-Chili defended three chances from (1)Penfield to tie or take the lead in the final seconds to hold on for a 40-37 upset win. It was the first and only time this season Penfield lost to a Section Five team. 

The game's climax might have been it's second to last field goal attempt. 

Penfield was down one point with 12 seconds to play. The Patriots got the ball to Hetzke in the low post, where she has dominated for five seasons. Dillard stepped out to defend. 

Best vs. best. 

Hetzke spun inside and tried to lean in for a scoop shot. An extra defender stepped in and the shot went wildly off the rim. 

The Spartans rebounded and made two free throws to go up three points. After a deflection, Penfield had one more chance to tie with 2.2 seconds left. Hetzke got a clean look at a three. It just didn't go down. 

Penfield broke a 13-all tie in the second quarter with an 8-0 run keyed by two Hetzke jumpers. The Patriots led by those eight points at the half. 

Gates responded with a 17-7 third quarter to go up two with eight minutes to play. Penfield scored the first four points of the fourth and led 35-34 midway through the quarter when Samantha Heiler drilled her 5th three pointer of the game. The Spartans were back in front 37-35. 

Possessions and points were hard to come by in the final four minute. The Spartans missed the front end of one-and-one free throw attempts twice in the final minutes. Hetzke was called for a carry. Gates-Chili's Sedria Thomas was whistled for travelling while scrambling on the floor for a loose ball with 15 seconds to play. 

Hetzke finished with a game high 20 points, but her supporting cast struggled. Lucy Covley was limited to four points and missed a potential go-ahead jumper with 25 seconds left. Emma Guy got seven points before she fouled out with four minutes to play. 

Hetzke's career is over 76 points short of 2,000. She hoisted only one sectional championship trophy. Dillard helped Gates-Chili win two of those three finals against the Patriots. 

Dillard will get one more chance at hardware in Friday's championship game. The Spartans will play (2)Rush-Henrietta at 9pm on a court to be determined. The Comets soared past (3)Irondequoit 55-40 Monday night.

Hetzke will next be on the floor as a Division I college player for Siena. Dillard will take her talents to UMass. 

Maybe the rivalry will have one more chapter. 

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