Weekly Feature

2017-03-30 / Sports

2017 Girls All-Bee Team

Claire Wanzer — Amherst Lady Tigers Claire Wanzer — Amherst Lady Tigers Most Valuable Player

Claire Wanzer — Amherst Lady Tigers

Claire Wanzer had accomplished plenty coming into this season. She was a 1,000-point scorer, a four-year starter and had been on the varsity team since seventh grade. But she had never played at Buffalo State, where the sectional championship games take place.

That changed this year as Wanzer, the 2016-17 All-Bee Player of the Year, led the Lady Tigers on a tremendous playoff run. After defeating Lewiston-Porter, 70-19, in the quarterfinal round, Wanzer’s 20 points led the team to a 56-53 win over Lake Shore in the semifinal to clinch a trip to Buff State.

“One of her goals was to play at Buff State,” Amherst coach Mike Chatelle said. “It took until her senior season to get there. I don’t know if it was her game or just being able to finally watch her get on the court to play and perform in that type of environment, but it was pretty special. Right after the Lake Shore game, when we knew we were finally going to get a chance to play there, was pretty emotional.”

Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks Wanzer made the most of her trip to the Class A-2 championship by scoring 18 in a 70-50 win over Olean. She then scored 20 in a 63-47 win over Williamsville South in the Class A Overall Final. The season came to an end in the Far West Regional with a loss to Pitt-Mendon, but Wanzer had much to be proud of. She finished the year averaging 19.3 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.1 assists. Over the course of her six-year career, she become one of the most complete players in the area.

Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks “She started playing in seventh grade, and every year she has gotten better,” Chatelle said. “Every year she works on something. After the first couple of years, it was the three-point shooting. Then she just gradually got better. She became a better rebounder. She’s pretty complete at this point.”

Wanzer, who will play for Niagara University next year, is now the leading scorer in Amherst history, including both the boys’ and girls’ teams with 1,707 points, beating the old record of 1,482. But she didn’t let chasing the record detract from her overall game. She remained the same team player.

“Even when she was setting the record, it didn’t consume her,” Chatelle said. “The game she actually set the record she led the team in assists. That’s the type of player she is. She just does what she can to help the team. She’s a big reason why we went where we went this year.”

Sacred Heart Sharks Sacred Heart Sharks Anndea Zeigler - FIRST TEAM

Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks

Cori Dickson and Anndea Zeigler are no strangers to success. The Cardinal O’Hara senior duo recently completed their storied high school careers with a fourth consecutive Monsignor Martin Championship and a perfect 72-0 record against Western New York competition.

The duo started their high school careers as integral parts of the 2013-14 Class A Federation State Championship team. Dickson scored nine points late to seal the game while Zeigler made the All-Tournament team. They’ve won Monsignor Martin titles in the subsequent three seasons, each featuring undefeated records in league play.

Clarence Lady Red Devils Clarence Lady Red Devils “Having them for four years has been a coach’s dream,” Cardinal O’Hara coach Nick O’Neill said. “The first year they were a big part of our championship season. They’ve been a big part of the team since the beginning. To watch them grow and mature as young ladies and basketball players has been great.”

Prior to this season, Dickson had mainly been a distributor on offense. But the graduation of former star Lady Hawk Summer Hemphill and a brief injury to Zeigler meant Dickson had to take on a larger scoring role. She finished the year averaging 12 points per game to go along with four assists and three steals. She made 59 three-pointers and shot 86 percent from the line.

Cori Dickson - FIRST TEAM

Will South Lady Billies Will South Lady Billies Cardinal O’Hara Lady Hawks

“This year it was necessary for me to score more because last year we had Summer and Anndea,” Dickson said. “So my job was to get them the ball so they could score. This year, it was reversed. I had to score more.”

While Dickson was the leader on offense, Zeigler ran the show on defense. She averaged three steals and five rebounds per game to go along with her 15 points per contest.

“I can score, too, but I’m best on defense,” Zeigler said. “Cori leads the offense and I’m a leader on defense.”

What makes both players’ statistics even more impressive is that they sat out the entirety of the fourth quarter in 12 different games this season. The Lady Hawks won their average league game by more than 40 points this season, driven by the efforts and leadership of Zeigler and Dickson.

“They’re two of the best girls in Western New York, and it’s nice that other coaches recognize that,” O’Neill said.

Dickson is undecided on college but is looking around. Zeigler will become the latest Lady Hawk to jump to the Division I college level, as she has signed on to play at Canisius next season.

“I’m proud of how I matured in high school and controlled myself on the court more,” Zeigler said. “From winning the federation my freshman year to winning Monsignor Martin for the fourth time this year was great.”

Micaela Ryan - FIRST TEAM

Sacred Heart Sharks

Micaela Ryan is a scorer above all else. The Sacred Heart junior averaged 19 points per game, leading the Sharks to the Monsignor Martin Large School Final. She also grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game and led the team with 2.6 steals per contest. Ryan’s inclusion on the All-Bee Team likely has to do with how difficult she is to game-plan against. “Obviously, this is a coach’s poll,” Sacred Heart coach Jack Coppola said. “She’s a great shooter and scorer, which means coaches have to game-plan around her. She’s a big factor in how they plan for us. Even with that, she still had big numbers almost every game. That says a lot about her.”

One of the best examples of that is the team’s game against St. Mary’s in January. The Lady Lancers played a triangle-and-two defense. This means three defenders played zone while two others went man-to-man with Ryan and her sister Siobhan. Despite this extra attention, Ryan scored 27 points to lead the team to a 67-42 victory. Ryan’s consistent output can be traced to her determination in practice and the weight room.

“In addition to practices, she lifts three days per week and does some shooting on her own,” Coppola said. “She’d dedicated to being a great shooter and getting stronger.” Ryan, who was named to the All-Catholic First Team, will return next year for her senior season.

Ella Rose Eckert - FIRST TEAM

Clarence Lady Red Devils

Ella Rose Eckert had quite the junior season. She led Clarence to a Class AA sectional title. She was first in ECIC I with 264 rebounds and second with 308 points, racking up 11 double-doubles over the course of the season. She was named the ECIC I Player of the Year and was an All-ECIC Large School First-Team all-star. She was named MVP of the Sacred Heart Tournament, all while serving as the team captain.

“She’s a huge leader and role model,” Clarence coach Erin Booker said. “Her intensity brings our practices up a level. She’s pushing others to perform at their best as well as herself.”

Eckert’s defensive prowess was hugely important to her team’s success. She’s a major reason why the Lady Red Devils allowed an average of just 35 points per game during their playoff run. They allowed just 31 to Frontier in the Class AA championship game.

“She’s a huge presence on defense,” Booker said. “Her rebounding numbers are huge. Rarely are teams getting second-chance points because of her rebounding capability and strong box-outs. She controls the boards.”

Eckert will play with Full Court Hoops over the summer and hopes to return further improved for her senior season. With her intensity and work ethic, that seems like a reasonable goal to achieve.

“Her work ethic and intensity level set her apart,” Booker said. “She wants to win and that shows in practice. It makes everyone around her better.”

Amari DeBerry - FIRST TEAM

Will South Lady Billies

It’s uncommon for an eighth-grader to make a varsity basketball team. It’s even more rare for an eighth-grader to start or see significant playing time. But it’s downright absurd for an eighth-grader to dominate her older peers.

But Amari DeBerry is far from your typical player. The 6 foot-4 inch middle school student averaged 19.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game this season, helping lead Williamsville South to a Class A1 sectional championship. After starting for the second half of her seventh-grade season, DeBerry made significant improvements in the offseason.

“She was the best-kept secret in Western New York before this year,” Williamsville South coach Kristen Dolan said. “Last year she had a great season with her AAU team. She has really grown as a player. She’s understanding the game a little more. She’s extremely gifted.”

DeBerry’s numbers show what a dominant force she is in the paint. What should scare her opponents is she’s developing her ball-handling and finesse skills. Already an unstoppable player down low, she’s working on her jump shot and guard skills. In a recent summer league game, she put the ball behind her back while dribbling up the court.

“She pulls up; her outside jump shot is improving,” Dolan said. “We’re working on her ball-handling and guard skills. She’s fun-loving and hard-working. We know she’s going to keep working.”

DeBerry is already one of the best players in Section VI as an eighth-grader. As difficult as it may be to believe, she’s still learning the game and improving.

Zeigler photo, and Wanzer, Dickson, Ryan and DeBerry file photos by Jake French; Eckert file photo by Daniel Rosati. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

Return to top