Ruff drew contact as she went up. The ball hit the backboard and rolled gently from the left side of the rim to the right side before falling out. Teammate Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering grabbed the miss, but her attempt from the right side almost mirrored Ruff’s. That miss also curled off to the right, and the 6-foot-2 Vanderlaan-Meyering again grabbed the rebound and tried to go back up. She drew heavy contact as her second putback attempt was blocked, winding up on her back as the buzzer sounded.
The officials called no foul.
“I should have made the layup,” said Ruff, who finished with game highs of 26 points and eight assists. “That’s my fault. There was definitely contact, but I shouldn’t have missed it. I should have just made it.”
But to blame Ruff for this loss would be like blaming Santa Claus for coming only once a year.
She spearheaded a rally from a 13-point halftime deficit, scoring 21 points in a second half chock full of three-pointers, driving layups and turnaround jumpers.
“She’s great,” Irvington coach Gina Maher said of Ruff, who scored her 1,000th point in an OHS uniform early in the fourth quarter. “She’ll be playing college ball some day at a real good school. She’s excellent. She’s really hard to defend. She can hit from the outside as well as the inside and she has a really good supporting cast.”
Even before Friday’s tip, there seemed to be so many reasons the Yellowjackets were ill-equipped to deal with these Bulldogs.
To start, one can point to Irvington’s three straight state titles — a run that started with a 54-33 state championship win over OHS in 2010. The Bulldogs also had four key players back from a squad that beat all state-tournament opponents by double figures en route to New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation titles last season, including Division I recruits Martins (Lehigh) and speedy point guard Brittni Lai (Marist).