ONEONTA — They’re top-seeded, they have a 16-2 record and they won by 25 points Wednesday night to extend their sectional winning streak to 18 games.
Still, something was amiss for Oneonta High’s girls.
This 52-27 Section Four Class B quarterfinal basketball victory against an overmatched Whitney Point squad – though never in doubt – looked awkward at times, sloppy at other points and generally not to the high standards Oneonta’s program has set for itself.
“We struggled tonight,” said senior standout Mariah Ruff, who scored a game-high 22 points despite struggling with her shot. “We didn’t play very well.”
This squad that lost four starters to graduation off of last season’s team that came within a whisker of knocking off three-time defending state champion Irvington in a Class B state semifinal appears to be searching for its identity.
Ruff, bound for Division I St. Bonaventure next season, is the lone returning starter. She’s still a dominant force and the players around her are every bit as athletic as the 2012-13 version.
But they don’t seem as confident, especially at the offensive end.
“We have to get kids more confident and balance our scoring a little more,” OHS coach Matt Miller said. “It’s really a confidence thing and some of these kids just need to see the ball go in more. If you’re open, you have to take the shot.”
Oneonta will try to advance to its seventh straight sectional final at 5:30 p.m. Friday when it hosts fourth-seeded Susquehanna Valley (12-7), which earned a 57-54 overtime win over Seton Catholic Central on Wednesday. It’ll come on the front of an SV-OHS doubleheader as the Yellowjackets’ boys will face the Sabers at 7 p.m. in a sectional semifinal.
The OHS girls actually followed a similar formula that helped the boys team to a dramatic 54-52 over Waverly on Tuesday.