By Dean Russin Sports Editor
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — Matthew Finne had to sweat one out Thursday at Oneonta State.
But making two foul shots with a sectional-championship appearance on the line turned out to be no sweat for the junior point guard, who helped the Davenport boys basketball team to a 46-37 victory over South Kortright in a Section Four Class D semifinal.
“The situation was tough, but I just had to execute,” said Finne, who missed three straight free throws in the fourth quarter before sinking a crucial one on the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity.
South Kortright coach Bob VanValkenburgh then called for a full timeout, giving Finne a few extra moments to think about his second shot. Finne swished that one, too, giving the second-seeded Wildcats a 43-37 lead with 37 seconds left.
A pair of missed three-pointers by SK’s Griff Metzko followed, and a defensive rebound by Josh Davi all but secured Davenport’s first trip back to a Section Four Class D final since 2010.
“What we try to do each practice is to get better, and every game we try to get better,” said Davenport coach Lee Fisher, whose program fell to SK, 39-36, in the 2010 sectional final. “That’s our slogan and that’s what we try to do, and now we’re in the big dance.”
At 8:15 p.m. Saturday back at O-State, the co-Delaware League champion Wildcats (19-1) will go toe-to-toe with fourth-seeded Southern Cayuga of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference in the Section Four Class D title game. The Chiefs (10-8) advanced by knocking off top-seeded Edmeston in overtime, 61-56, in Thursday’s opening semifinal at O-State.
“They’re a tough team,” Finne said of Southern Cayuga. “They’ve got a big guy, so we’re going to have to run it at him and get him out of there. We just have to execute.”
That’s exactly what Davenport did Thursday in the second half, when the Wildcats outscored Delaware League rival SK, 31-19.
“We talked to the kids in the locker room at halftime and said we’re still in the game,” said Fisher, whose team faced an 18-15 deficit at the break. “We had to come out in the third quarter (strong) and we played a pretty good third quarter.”
Corey Hartman and Davi made consecutive three-pointers from the right wing to spark a back-and-forth third period that featured eight lead changes and two ties. Kyle Moorby snapped the last deadlock, turning a steal into an uncontested layup with 15 seconds left in the third period to give Davenport a 33-31 edge.
The Wildcats, who won sectional championships in 2006 and 2007, then took control with a 6-0 run on baskets by Hartman, Moorby and Davi. Ty Faulk’s and-one lay-in from the right block ended the spurt with 5:05 remaining, but he missed the free throw. Finne answered 10 seconds later with a layup on a non-stop, end-to-end drive to put Davenport up, 41-33.
Faulk bounced in a shot off the front of the rim and then capped the scoring for sixth-seeded SK (15-5) with a foul-line swish off a long rebound. The Rams failed to get any closer, though, as Moorby (1-for-2), Finne (2-for-3) and Davi (2-for-2) combined on a game-ending 5-0 run at the free throw line.
“I thought Davenport played really good defense,” said VanValkenburgh, who led the Rams to consecutive sectional championships in 2009 and 2010. “They changed it up just enough to keep us off-balance and they hit their foul shots at the end. We struggled offensively, but a lot of that was their defense.”
Faulk scored 10 of his 14 points after halftime, but SK didn’t get much elsewhere. Metzko’s 14-point night ended with six points in the third quarter, when Dan Nelson scored two and Ty Magnan hit a free throw. All six of the Rams’ fourth-quarter points came from Faulk.
In contrast, all five of Davenport’s starters hit at least two baskets in the second half: Finne scored eight points, Moorby and Davi contributed seven apiece, Hartman had five and Kyle Wamsley scored four.
“It’s great and I’m really pleased with the kids,” said Fisher, whose team failed to qualify for sectionals last season. “They’ve worked hard all year. Last year was probably the first time in my career we didn’t make sectionals. Nevertheless, this year, they’ve turned it around.”
Moorby took team-high scoring honors with 12 points for Davenport, which received 10 apiece from Finne and Davi, eight from Hartman and six from Wamsley.
“Every team from now on has to be playing their best game,” Fisher said. “And that’s what we hope our guys are doing.”
Davenport 46, SK 37
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Oneonta State
6-SOUTH KORTRIGHT (15-5): Ty Magnan 0 1-2 1, Ty Lamport 1 2-2 4, Griff Metzko 5 2-2 14, Dan Nelson 2 0-0 4, Brett Post 0 0-0 0, Ty Faulk 7 0-2 14, Andrew Post 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15 5-8 37.
2-DAVENPORT (19-1): Corey Hartman 3 0-0 8, Chris Kopf 0 0-0 0, Matthew Finne 4 2-5 10, Michael Libby 0 0-0 0, Kyle Moorby 5 2-5 12, Andre Dewitt 0 0-0 0, Josh Davi 3 2-2 10, Cody Wamsley 0 0-0 0, Kyle Wamsley 3 0-0 6. TOTALS: 18 6-12 46.
South Kortright6 12 13 6 - 37
Davenport10 5 18 13 - 46
Three-point field goals: S 2 (Metzko 2); D 4 (Hartman 2, Davi 2).
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.