Four For Utica
pblackwell, Thu, March 5th, 2009
Now we have our full slate of Section III girls basketball finals fully set for a Super Saturday at Utica Auditorium.
As it got scheduled, Fayetteville-Manlius and Cicero-North Syracuse will start at high noon for the Class AA title. Hamilton and Sackets Harbor meet at 3:30 in Class D, and the Whitesboro-Mexico Class A final at 7:15 closes out the night.
The only question as the week began was who would join them in the Class C (1:45) and B (5:30) games. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we got the answers.
First came the B-2 and B-1 finals at Jamesville-DeWitt. In B-2, Clinton put a halt to Canastota's unbeaten season, while Cazenovia ended South Jefferson's six-year reign to take the B-1 championship.
Clinton knew the key to beating Canastota lay in first containing Liz McGinley and making sure she didn't dominate in the paint. Conversely, the Raiders wanted to do the exact same thing to the Warriors' Lauren Conway.
That meant a lot of zone defense, a lot of missed shots, and a lot of dry spells that made every basket important. A pair of 6-0 at the start and end of the first half allowed Canastota to take a 15-10 lead to the break.
But McGinley got shut out in the second half, Clinton edged in front, then made all the baskets in the final minute to pull it out 31-23.
The Raiders saw no shame in 21-1, and while McGinley might be impossible to replace, every other starter comes back next winter, and Shea Foster, an eighth-grader, is ready to step in and be a star.
Experience had a lot to do with what happened in the B-1 final. This was the year to catch South Jefferson, a team with no senior on its roster, and Cazenovia's seniors made absolutely sure that the Spartans wouldn't get them this time.
Shaking off the injury to Ashley Stec in the game's opening minute, Caz sneaked in front late in the first half, then took charge when the senior trio of Kiley Evans, Kassie Kleine and Katie Mullins accounted for all 16 of the team's points in the third quarter.
That, plus the usual Laker defense, made it 41-31 in the end. One must favor Caz in the overall final against Clinton, but if Tuesday's games are any indicator, the first to 30 might win. Again.
The show moved to Rome Free Academy Wednesday night for the Class C games, starting in C-2 with Bishop Grimes shooting down Mohawk and continuing in C-1 with Little Falls getting sweet revenge on Cooperstown.
Going after its first sectional title in 11 years, Grimes had to salivate when Mohawk stayed in a zone, determined not to let forwards Amanda Marcely and Tenley Pitonzo get easy baskets.
Instead, Brooke Bonacci and Amelia Heiselman teed off with 3-pointers - 11 between them. And the 12 Grimes converted set a school record, serving as the basis for a 59-43. Oh, by the way, Marcely still had 13 points and eight boards to help out.
This leaves Little Falls with quite a dilemma - how the heck do you defend the Cobras? Of course, the Mounties are quite happy to be at this point after doing on Wednesday what it couldn't do 12 months ago when both Little Falls and Cooperstown were unbeaten.
With a whole new cast of characters aiming to surprise, Coop started out with a 12-4 lead and kept that edge throughout the first half, though it cooled off and only had a two-point edge (20-18) at the break.
Little Falls got tired of this and, in the third quarter, took the lead for good with a 13-4 run as forwards Jenna Becker (12 points) and Sue Schoff (11 points) led the way.
If guard Sara Helmer, overcoming shin splints, can play more minutes on Saturday, Little Falls has a much better chance of upending Bishop Grimes. But the Mounties would be wise to guard the perimeter...