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March 16, 2013

Jackets go down swinging

Overcome huge deficit before falling, 55-53, in state semi

TROY — Agonizing.

From Oneonta High’s standpoint, there’s simply no other word to describe the ending of Friday’s Class B girls basketball state semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College.

At game’s conclusion, the scoreboard high above center court stubbornly read: Irvington 55, Oneonta 53.

Its accuracy cannot be questioned, but it didn’t come close to telling this story. Scoreboards never do.

But the tears streaming freely from a group of Yellowjackets that twice came within inches in the final seconds from forcing the three-time defending state champions into overtime were proof that this one stung.

“There’s not any consolation to losing and the girls are hurting right now,” OHS coach Matt Miller said, “but when you look at the team we lost to, it’s somewhat encouraging to know we competed with the best team in the state and had a chance to tie it up at the end.”

In reality, the Yellowjackets had two golden chances to tie it over the final three-or-so seconds.

Though OHS’ Mariah Ruff added yet another memorable chapter to her standout junior season, there’s one shot she said she’d like to have back.

The play started when she ripped down the last of her seven rebounds with about 10 seconds left after an ill-advised shot by Bulldogs star center Lexi Martins. With the Yellowjackets down by two, Ruff raced down the middle of the floor. With an Irvington defender waiting at the free throw line, Ruff simply veered right and continued toward the basket.

A tying basket seemed inevitable.

“The way things went that last three seconds and for that layup not to be a foul and for (Ruff) not to be on the line with probably an and-1, someone up there was definitely helping us out,” Martins said.

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