By Dean Russin Sports Editor
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — It didn’t take long for Oneonta High to make a point Wednesday night.
Forty-eight seconds, to be exact.
And the Yellowjackets actually had six points by then.
“He wanted us to get a fast start on them and he said once we got a few points not to let up,” OHS senior guard Mariah Ruff said of coach Matt Miller’s press-first, ask-questions-later game plan, which set the stage for a 60-41 Southern Tier Athletic Conference girls basketball rout of the Saints.
“I think we did that very well,” continued Ruff, who hit one field goal after the first quarter but still finished with a game-high 17 points. “Our game this year is probably running. We’re a really athletic team. So, yeah, that was kind of the game plan.”
The Jackets were up and running seconds after Brittney Herrick won the tip. Ruff started with a missed three-point field goal attempt, but Maria DiMartin made a reverse layup off the rebound as defending Section Four Class B and STAC champion OHS (7-0, 6-0) took the lead for keeps in the opening seconds.
Oneonta then unveiled a full-court press that resulted in back-to-back transition baskets — by Ruff and DiMartin, respectively — off of steals for a 6-0 lead, prompting Seton coach Colleen Jayne to call for time after 48 seconds.
“Seton makes you play at a pace that we didn’t really want to play at tonight,” said Miller, whose team forced 20 turnovers — mostly off its skin-tight press — in the first half. “Nobody ever wants to play at that pace. They’re just in your face the entire game, they put pressure on you and they take risks. It was definitely like a ping-pong match tonight.”
OHS finished the first quarter ahead, 15-5, and closed the second period on a 6-0 run for a 33-17 advantage at halftime.
Ruff played a bit role thereafter, scoring four points on 4-for-6 shooting from the foul line in the second half. But it’s not like Oneonta really needed much more out of Ruff, who will play Division I basketball at St. Bonaventure next season.
That’s because the second half started almost exactly like the first. Jayne again quickly called for time — 57 seconds had passed this time — as DiMartin and Brieanna Baker scored back-to-back transition baskets off the full-court press to extend Oneonta’s cushion to 20 points.
“This was a game they wanted,” said Jayne, whose program reached the Section Four Class B championship game in two of the last three seasons but fell to Oneonta both times. “I think it showed a little bit in our play. I think we came out jacked up a little bit too much. You can’t turn the ball over 20 times in a half and expect to win a game.”
Seton followed the timeout with another turnover that set up Madison Miller for a basket with 1:13 gone in the third period. Jayne had seen enough at that point, benching all five of her starters for the rest of the quarter.
“Mr. Miller talked a lot about not letting up if we get up by 13 or 14 points,” said Ruff, whose last basket from the field was a three-pointer with 3:53 left in the second quarter. “I thought we did a really good job of that and we didn’t take our foot off the gas pedal.”
Eighth-grade reserve Ava McCann scored all four of the Saints’ points in the third quarter, which ended with Oneonta way ahead, at 47-21. McCann finished with a team-best 11 points for Seton, which committed 34 turnovers on the night but also forced 19.
“We turned the ball over just because we were playing so fast,” Matt Miller said. “Thank God our defense kept us in the game. If our defense didn’t kind of back up our lack of offense, we might have been in quite a bit of trouble.”
Herrick contributed 10 points for the Jackets, going 6-for-6 from the foul line to help OHS finish 21-for-32 as a team.
Lauren Miller’s 11 points included a 7-for-8 effort from the free throw line, where the Saints went 14-for-18.
Oneonta 60, Seton 41
SETON CATHOLIC CENTRAL: Jamie Farrell 0 0-0 0, Lexus Levy 1 0-0 2, Molly Martin 0 0-0 0, Christy O’Neil 2 4-6 8, Rachel Gallagher 1 0-0 2, Emily Gibson 1 0-0 2, Lauren Miller 2 7-8 11, Faith Kenville 0 0-0 0, Brenna McGovern-Lind 0 0-0 0, Meghan Nally 0 0-0 0, Hanna Strawn 0 0-0 0, Olivia Kresin 0 2-2 2, Ava McCann 6 1-2 14. TOTALS: 13 14-18 41.
ONEONTA (7-0, 6-0): Abby Picinich 0 1-3 1, Kendall Gillette 1 0-0 2, Brieanna Baker 2 2-5 6, Ceili Getman 0 2-2 2, Meg Burns 1 0-0 2, Rachel Wessells 1 1-2 3, Mariah Ruff 4 8-11 17, Brittney Herrick 2 6-6 10, Maria DiMartin 4 1-1 9, Gabby Richardson 1 0-2 2, Madison Miller 3 0-0 6. TOTALS: 19 21-32 60.
Seton CC5 12 4 20 - 41
Oneonta15 18 14 13 - 60
Three-point field goals: S 1 (McCann); O 1 (Ruff).
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.