By Rob Centorani Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — 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.
The Yellowjackets’ boys switched from zone to man in the third quarter and quickly wiped out a 10-point deficit.
On Wednesday, eighth-seeded Whitney Point went on an 8-0 run in the second quarter to pull to 17-11. Brittany Randall scored five points in the spurt that was capped by a free throw by Courtney Dunham.
At that point, the Yellowjackets switched to man-to-man and a 14-0 run that bridged the second and third quarters ensued.
Senior center Brittney Herrick scored six of her eight points in the spurt, Ruff made a driving layup and went 4-for-4 from the line, and Brieanna Baker hit a wing jumper.
Ruff’s two free throws with 7:10 left in the third quarter gave the Yellowjackets a 31-11 lead.
During the run, OHS held WP without a point for over five minutes.
“We were really struggling in our zone,” Ruff said. “We didn’t have much energy, so Mr. Miller had us switch to man and then we started playing with more energy.”
Miller said early in the season his squad didn’t play well in man-to-man. That certainly wasn’t the case Wednesday.
“We’ve worked on it more in practice and we’re getting more comfortable in it,” Miller said. “We’re not fouling as much. That’s definitely something can do more of because we have the size and we have the athletes.”
The Yellowjackets put things out of reach by scoring eight straight points midway through the third quarter. Meg Burns scored inside and then scored on a putback. Maria DiMartin followed with a fastbreak layup off a pass from Burns and Madison Miller capped the run with a putback. That made the score, 39-14, with 3:25 left in the quarter.
That spurt included no points from Ruff and she said she’d like to see more of that as sectionals progress.
“The girls just need to take more shots,” Ruff said. “Everybody just needs to shoot the ball more and have more confidence in their shots and we’ll go far.”
Oneonta 52, WP 27
SECTION FOUR CLASS B
8-WHITNEY POINT (8-10): Lexi Benscoter 0-2 1-3 1, Hannah Bieber 0-4 0-1 0, Rachel Burchell 0-3 0-0 0, Jessica Cafferty 4-8 2-5 10, Taylor Clink 0-1 0-0 0, Courtney Dunham 1-2 1-4 3, Katrina Hibbard 0-1 0-0 0, Brittney Randell 4-14 0-0 10, Ashley Shrauger 0-0 0-0 0, Graci Standish-Warpus 0 0-0 0, Bri Sturdevant 1-7 1-2 3. TOTALS: 10-42 5-15 27.
1-ONEONTA (16-2): Abby Picinich 0-6 0-0 0, Kendall Gillette 1-1 0-0 2, Brieanna Baker 1-5 0-0 2, Ceili Getman 0-0 0-0 0, Meg Burns 2-4 0-0 4, Rachel Wessells 0-6 0-0 0, Mariah Ruff 7-23 6-6 22, Brittney Herrick 4-10 0-0 8, Maria DiMartin 3-10 0-0 7, Gabby Richardson 2-5 1-2 5, Madison Miller 1-9 0-0 2. TOTALS: 21-79 7-8 52.
Whitney Point 2 9 6 10 – 27
Oneonta 12 15 19 6 – 52
Three-point field goals: W 2 (Randall 2); O 3 (Ruff 2, DiMartin).
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.