By Brian C. Horey Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — SYRACUSE — Franklin’s girls, so unbeatable against Section Four competition over the past two seasons, fell for the second straight year in the Class D state basketball quarterfinals to a Section Three team.
Saturday’s loss, a 52-35 setback to Hamilton, marked the final high school basketball game for Jordan Beers. She finished with a game-high 19 points, but like many of her teammates, Beers struggled with her shooting at Onondaga Community College’s spacious gymnasium.
Beers spent six years as a varsity player for the Purple Devils and scored an area-record 2,442 points. That number ranks second in Section Four history — to Harpursville graduate Hannah Kimmel’s 2,692 points — and 21st in New York state history.
“She’s the best player I’ve ever coached,” Franklin coach Mike Dutcher said of Beers, who’ll play next season for Ithaca College. “She is a special player. Not only was she a player who scored lots of points, but she led her team to championships. When you get championships with a high scoring average, you have something special.”
Beers and senior teammate Marisa Cawley accounted for all but one of Franklin’s points. Cawley finished with 15 points and Mara Stalter had the Purple Devils’ other point.
That was in contrast to an Emerald Knights squad that placed four players in double figures. Lauren Weeks and Jess Welsh scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, Hayden Nolan had 11 and Olivia Dow contributed 10.
And though Franklin surrendered a season-high in points and scored a season-low, Dutcher said following the game his team reflected on what it accomplished the past two seasons. Franklin went 20-1 each of the past two seasons, won back-to-back sectional titles — the first two in program history — and three straight Tri-Valley League championships.
“All of our seniors will be missed,” said Dutcher, whose team’s season ended a year ago with a 51-46 loss to Oriskany. “What a great run.”
Two numbers really stood out Saturday: Franklin shot 10-for-53 from the field and was outscored, 21-3, from behind the three-point arc.
“That is not us,” Dutcher said of team’s 19 percent shooting. “They played man-to-man and it was pretty physical. I really felt we kind of got banged around early and didn’t get calls and that took us out of our rhythm.
“On another night when we shoot better, we could win this game,” he continued.
Franklin led, 9-8, after one quarter, an advantage that could have been larger if not for 1-for-6 free throw shooting in the period.
Then Hamilton hit four three-pointers while outscoring the Purple Devils, 17-7, in the second quarter. Weeks and Nolan hit two three-pointers apiece during the run.
As the Emerald Knights took a 25-16 lead into halftime, 18 of their points came on three-pointers.
“They were huge shots for them,” Dutcher said. “Three of the threes came from the Nolan girl. We knew she was a decent player, but we didn’t anticipate she’d be so hot.”
Nolan had six three-pointers on the season entering Saturday.
The teams played to an 11-all deadlock in the third quarter and then Franklin made a mini-run on baskets by Beers and Cawley to get to 39-33, with 6:09 to play.
But Hamilton 6-footer Dow answered with a pair of baskets and Welsh went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to help Hamilton seal its first trip to the state semifinals.
Welsh also drew the defensive assignment on Beers.
“Welsh and Weeks, we knew they were quick, but we didn’t know how quick they really were,” Dutcher said. “They had (Welsh) stay on (Beers) and anytime she looked for a gap, they doubled immediately.”
Cawley’s night included 20 rebounds and Beers finished with 10.
“She improved so much that teams had to prepare to stop two people this season,” Dutcher said of Cawley, who’ll play next season at Cazenovia College. “Her game definitely elevated. She was more polished around the rim and and shot at a high percentage.”
Hamilton (19-2) will oppose Section Two’s Fort Edward at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in a state semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College.
Hamilton 52, Franklin 35
CLASS D STATE QUARTERFINAL
Saturday at Onondaga CC
Number before team indicates section
4-FRANKLIN (20-1): Jessie Downin 0 0-0 0, Paige Fairchilds 0 0-0 0, Marisa Cawley 5 5-8 15, Keri Schmidt 0 0-0 0, Mariah McNeilly 0 0-0 0, Jordan Beers 5 8-15 19, Malorie Jordan 0 0-0 0, Sabra Warner 0 0-0 0, Mara Stalter 0 1-2 1. TOTALS: 10 14-25 35.
3-HAMILTON (19-2): Jess Welsh 3 7-10 14, Lauren Weeks 6 1-2 16, Hayden Nolan 4 0-0 11, Sarah Foster 0 0-0 0, Teanna Wilcox 0 0-0 0, Bridget Blain 0 0-0 0, Hayleigh Hanson 0 1-2 1, Morgan Johnson 0 0-0 0, Caitlyn Purdy 0 0-0 0, Olivia Dow 5 0-0 10. TOTALS: 18 9-14 52.
Franklin 9 7 11 8 – 35
Hamilton 8 17 11 16 – 52
Three-point field goals: F 1 (Beers); H 7 (Weeks 3, Welsh, Nolan 3).