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March 10, 2014

Oneonta's rally falls short

VESTAL — The Mariah Ruff era at Oneonta High — at least as it pertains to varsity athletics — ended Saturday afternoon at Binghamton University’s Events Center.

“At moments, it seems like it went by so quickly,” Ruff said. “It’s been a great four years.”

Though it ended in defeat, it was so much about what Ruff’s 4-year tenure stood for. She led a Yellowjackets squad that scraped, clawed, fought and found a way to give itself a chance, even when it appeared the window to victory was latched shut and the door to the state semifinals was double-bolted.

Half of her game-high 22 points came in the final quarter as OHS rallied from a 14-point deficit. Her transition layup with 58 seconds left tied the score at 44, but Utica Notre Dame closed on a 6-0 run to win the Class B state quarterfinal, 50-44.

“She’s a play-maker for us when we need her on defense and she’s a play-maker when we need her on offense,” Oneonta High coach Matt Miller said of Ruff, who’ll play basketball next season for Division I St. Bonaventure. “She’s got an energy and a determination about her that’s infectious. The kids have always followed her lead. Even as a freshman, she had spurts like that. Kids just rally around her and we’re definitely going to miss that, among many other things.”

The Jugglers’ victory avenged a 57-52 loss to the Yellowjackets in a state quarterfinal last season, when Ruff had 28 points.

Of course, Utica ND had its own version of Ruff in Emily Durr, an Iowa State recruit with a 5-foot-11 frame that just screams, “basketball player!”. Durr scored a team-high 19 points and delivered three key assists during a huge third-quarter run that helped the Jugglers turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 37-25 lead.

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