By Rob Centorani Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA – Southern Cayuga’s pressure defense combined with the penetration of Jessie and Emily Kopp proved too much for Schenevus on Wednesday night.
Jessie Kopp scored a game-high 16 points, one more than Emily, as the top-seeded Chiefs advanced to the Section Four Class D girls basketball title game with a 57-43 victory over the fourth-seeded Dragons at Oneonta State.
“Usually, that’s our main focus,” said Jessie Kopp of her team’s dribble penetration. “We’re a pretty quick team. It’s what we’ve been trained to do by our coach. We really like to drive.”
Jessie Kopp’s penetration resulted in her taking 16 trips to the free throw line. She made 12 of them, including a pair with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left that gave the Chiefs a 51-40 lead. Schenevus never got the deficit below 11 points thereafter.
Emily Kopp, who also had 15 rebounds, made three driving layups and converted three putbacks during her night.
“Their penetration was awesome,” said Schenevus coach Tim Walke, whose team ended its season at 15-5.
The Chiefs (19-2) will play a familiar foe in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. title game back at O-State. Third-seeded Franklin (19-0), the defending sectional champions, defeated No. 2 South Kortright, 39-30, in the second semifinal Wednesday at O-State. Last season, in a sectional semifinal against SC, Franklin standout Jordan Beers scored 38 points to lead the Purple Devils to a 70-36 victory over the Chiefs.
“We’d like to see Jordan Beers again,” Jessie Kopp said before the Franklin-SK game started. “She kind of dominated the last time we came to Oneonta. We’d like to play them again.”
Perhaps equally decisive to their penetration Wednesday for the Chiefs was their suffocating baseline-to-baseline defense that seemed to wear on Schenevus as the game progressed. It also resulted in 24 Schenevus turnovers – 17 coming in the first half.
“The bottom line, their work ethic is amazing,” Walke of the Chiefs. “They hustle from the time the ball in the air until the end of the game.”
Still, this was anything but easy for SC.
It looked like it might become a laugher when Alex Hetherington hit a pair of rainbow three-pointers from the right wing 20 seconds apart early in the second quarter. The latter gave Southern Cayuga a 20-9 lead 6:55 before halftime.
But then Schenevus went on a 12-3 spurt to end the quarter.
Sierra Bentley scored five of her nine points during the run. She hit a foul-line jumper, a driving layup and a free throw as the Dragons pulled to 23-21 by halftime.
When Ceara Marlow and Kassie Jeffers scored 16 seconds apart early in the third quarter, Schenevus tied that score at 27. Marlow scored inside off a pass from Alyssa Turner to make it 27-25 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Then Schenevus beat SC’s pressure as Jeffers made a driving layup and was fouled with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter. Jeffers missed the free throw, but the Dragons were even.
The deadlock didn’t last long. Jessie Kopp hit an elbow jumper with 5 ½ minutes left in the quarter to start a 12-4 Chiefs run.
When Emily Kopp scored on a driving layup, SC had a 37-31 lead with 1:55 to go in the third. Maddie Burns’ baseline jumper extended the lead to eight.
Schenevus made one final run.
Mary Hernandez hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the third quarter and Sarah Mellor made a three-pointer from the left wing off a pass from Marlow six seconds into the fourth quarter as Schenevus pulled to 39-36.
“I think they’re a great team,” Jessie Kopp said of Schenevus. “They never give up. They surprised us. We came in here thinking it would be an easier game, but it was a tough one.”
The Chiefs responded with 9-2 run that all but ended things.
Adrianne Torea hit a 12-footer off a baseline inbound play and Emily Kopp scored on a putback, the latter extending SC’s lead to 43-36 with 7:10 left.
“As the game wore on, I think our legs were better, so we were able to penetrate a little easier,” SC coach Ed Heslop said.
Mellor, who finished with nine points, answered with a wing jumper, but Sydney Cullen hit a three-pointer along the left baseline and Hetherington scored on a 16-footer to make it 48-38 with 5:50 to go.
A jumper by Jennifer Walke cut Schenevus’ deficit to eight, but a free throw by Cullen with 5:20 left, two more free throws by Jessie Kopp with 4:25 remaining and a driving layup by Cullen with 3:18 left gave the Chiefs a 53-40 advantage.
“I think we got a little tired,” Walke said. “As soon as they get it, they’re pushing, pushing, pushing and that will wear a team out.”
Jeffers also had nine points for Schenevus, which will graduate senior starters Jeffers, Bentley, Marlow and Mellor.
Southern Cayuga 57, Schenevus 43
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Oneonta State
4-SCHENEVUS (15-5): Kassie Jeffers 4-9 0-3 9, Danielle Ost 0-1 2-2 2, Mary Hernandez 0-4 5-8 5, Sierra Bentley 3-11 3-4 9, Ceara Marlow 2-11 0-0 4, Jennifer Walke 1-13 2-2 4, Sarah Mellor 4-15 0-0 9, Megan Walke 0-0 0-0 0, Alyssa Turner 0-5 0-4 0, Kimberly Tefft 0-0 0-0 0, Danielle Tefft 0-1 1-2 1. TOTALS: 14-70 13-25 43.
1-SOUTHERN CAYUGA (19-2): Jessie Kopp 2-12 12-16 16, Sydney Cullen 3-11 3-5 10, Maddie Burns 1-5 0-0 2, Emily Kopp 6-11 3-4 15, Adrianne Torea 2-11 0-0 4, Alex Hetherington 4-8 0-0 10. TOTALS: 18-58 18-26 57.
Schenevus7 14 12 10 – 43
Southern Cayuga14 9 16 18 – 57
Three-point field goals: Sch. 2 (Jeffers, Mellor); SC 3 (Hetherington 2, Cullen).
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.