BUFFALO — Southwestern picked the wrong time to have its lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
Eden had a lot to do with it.
The third-seeded Trojans were outscored 24-4 in the fourth quarter Sunday as the top-seeded Raiders erased a one-point deficit to win the Section VI Class B2 championship 58-39 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
“Our process is what got us here. … I felt like we were going to win the entire game,” said first-year Eden head coach Bill O’Hare. “I wasn’t even really looking at the score, I liked the way we were playing and competing. I knew we would turn it on when it mattered.”
Despite turning the ball over just once in the final eight minutes, Southwestern went 1 for 15 from the field and did not make any of its 3-point attempts.
At the other end, Eden’s sister duo of Jessica and Maggie Zittel took over the game, combining for 19 of the Raiders’ 24 points in the final period.
“We really hung with them all three quarters and then that fourth quarter, we just couldn’t stop Zittel. She was on fire,” Southwestern head coach Kay Sirianni said. “We couldn’t make any of our shots or get enough shots off. That fourth quarter definitely killed us.”
Jessica Zittel, a senior and the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer, finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four steals while her junior sister, Maggie, added 15 points and four rebounds.
“It’s the experienced backcourt, which is really big,” O’Hare said. “Having Maggie and Jess makes my job easier.”
Sophomore Reece Beaver led the Trojans with 21 points, three assists and three steals.
“She’s a great defender and our top scorer offensively,” Sirianni said. “She’s always up for the challenge. She did a really nice job on both ends.”
Southwestern took a 35-34 lead into the final quarter, but that was quickly erased on back-to-back buckets from Jessica Zittel.
Senior Emalee Ballou then hit a 3-pointer to put Eden up 41-35 with 6:34 remaining.
“She’s a gamer,” O’Hare said of Emalee Ballou, who, along with her sister Ashley, are all-state volleyball players. They did not return home from a tournament in Boston until 10 p.m. Saturday. “You can just trust them when we start playing. They are such great competitors.”
Beaver hit a pair of free throws on the Trojans’ next trip down the floor to make it a five-point game, but that was as close as Southwestern would get the rest of the way. Maggie Zittel answered with a 3-pointer before Beaver scored what would turn out to be the Trojans’ final points of the game.
“I’ve watched so many hours of film on Southwestern. I know their team so well,” O’Hare said. “We talked all week on how we were going to defend ball screens with Reece and we did a really good job of that today.”
The Raiders, who were 7 of 9 from the field and 8 for 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, finished the game on a 13-0 run to secure the third sectional crown in program history and first since 2011.
“Joe Dougherty … really built this program to where it is,” O’Hare said. “I took the job a couple of days before the season started. … He has really helped me.”
Southwestern led 9-8 after the first quarter, thanks to a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining from freshman Bella Sirianni.
Sophomore Ashlei Spina, who had scored 51 points and made just seven 3-pointers all season before Sunday, kept Eden in the game with 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the second quarter.
“That was something we kept in our back pocket all year,” O’Hare said of Spina. “I knew she could be a weapon for us in the right spots and she was huge today.”
Spina’s second 3-pointer gave the Raiders a 25-23 lead with under a minute remaining in the first half, but Beaver banked in a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to give the lead back to Southwestern.
Eden took a short-lived lead early in the third quarter and the teams remained within one possession of each other before the Trojans’ offense disappeared in the fourth quarter.
“I told the girls they hustled, they played hard,” Coach Sirianni said. “Their talent and hard work all season put them here. They should be proud of making it this far. We played against an excellent team.”
Ellie Lawton is the lone graduating senior for Southwestern, which had won four straight sectional titles before Sunday’s loss.
“It looks promising for us next year. That’s the really positive thing,” Sirianni said. “We made it this far with this team, we’re young, and next year we’re going to be back here.”
NOTES: Eden will play Class B1 champion Lewiston-Porter in Wednesday’s 5 p.m. Class B crossover game at Buffalo State. The top-seeded Lancers beat No. 2 Depew on Sunday. … Sophomore Maddie McIntyre had 13 rebounds and sophomore Lauren Cotter had eight rebounds for Southwestern, which shot 13 of 57 (22.8%) from the field, including 4 of 22 (18.2%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over nine times. … Ashley Ballou had seven rebounds for Eden, which shot 19 of 52 (36.5%) from the field, including 6 of 15 (40%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 12 times.
Cobb 0 0 0, Beaver 6 8 21, Lawton 1 0 2, Sirianni 1 0 3, Riley 0 0 0, McIntyre 2 1 5, Cotter 1 0 2, Ricker 2 0 6. Totals 13 9 39.
ABallou 1 2 4, JZittel 7 5 20, EBallou 1 1 4, Schrecengost 0 0 0, Johnson 2 0 5, Spina 3 0 8, Wray 1 0 2, MZittel 4 6 15, Harling 0 0 0. Totals 19 14 58.
3-point goals–Beaver, Sirianni, Ricker 2, JZittel, EBallou, Johnson, Spina 2, MZittel.
Southwestern 9 17 9 4 — 39
Eden 8 17 9 24 — 58