By Dean Russin Sports Editor
The Daily Star
---- — The sky is the limit for Mariah Ruff.
Actually, that might be too low now that the Oneonta High senior guard will be forever known as 2014’s Miss New York Basketball.
“I was really shocked,” said Ruff, who joins the likes of University of Connecticut teammates Saniya Chong (2013) and Breanna Stewart (2012), WNBA standout Sue Bird (1998) and Hartwick College women’s basketball coach Missy West (1996) on the Basketball Coaches Association of New York’s Miss New York Basketball list.
“It’s humbling to be mentioned with them,” continued Ruff, who will play Division I basketball at St. Bonaventure next season. “I still have to do the work to be a D-I athlete and to help my teammates out. Just having the title doesn’t mean I don’t have to work hard.”
Ruff amassed 1,932 points over six varsity seasons, spending her last four with Oneonta High following her first two at Andes. She averaged 17.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists this season for the Yellowjackets, whose 18-3 campaign included their seventh straight Section Four championship.
“She definitely made my job a lot easier,” said OHS coach Matt Miller, who added that Ruff will join teammates Maria DiMartin and Brittney Herrick in the BCANY’s annual Stars & Stripes Classic today and Friday at Davis College in Johnson City. “Without her, I think we still would have had a pretty good program. But she definitely took us to the next level.
“She was tireless, so none of this happened by accident,” he continued. “She’s a kid who really worked at it and she deserves all the accolades she receives.”
A First Team all-state selection last season, Ruff is the first Section Four girl to win Miss New York Basketball. She joins former Binghamton standout King Rice as the only Section Four athletes to be recognized by the BCANY as the top basketball player in the state. Rice, who played D-I ball at North Carolina, shared Mr. New York Basketball honors in 1987 with Shenendehowa graduate and former Duke captain Greg Koubek.
“She’s a student-athlete that any school, any community and, of course, any parents would be awfully proud of,” OHS athletic director Joe Hughes said of Ruff, who surely will earn her fourth straight all-state honor soon. “Mariah truly embodied everything a teammate is because she knew the team comes first. She’s a well-liked student-athlete, a well-liked kid and a very talented basketball player.”
The BCANY selected Ruff from a field of six finalists that included Harpursville standout Miranda Drummond and Utica Notre Dame’s Emily Durr. Drummond helped the Hornets to the Class C state semifinals this season and Durr led UND to the Class B state championship, after the Jugglers ended Oneonta’s season with a 50-44 victory in a Class B state quarterfinal.
The BCANY announced Ruff’s honor Saturday, when Durr scored 29 points in UND’s 71-36 rout of Bishop Kearney in the Class B state final. Durr, who played AAU basketball with Ruff, passed Cicero-North Syracuse graduate Stewart for the top spot on Section Three’s all-time scoring list Saturday. Durr will enter the Class B Federation Tournament this weekend with 2,389 varsity points.
Ruff also led the Jackets to their first state championship in girls soccer this past fall and shared Class B Player of the Year honors with teammate Taryn More. Ruff said Tuesday that she considered playing softball for OHS this spring but has decided to spend the rest of her high school days “hanging out” with her family as she’ll be off to St. Bonaventure in June.
YOUTH SWIMMINGArea boy wins state title
Oneonta resident Gabe House said he had a feeling he would do well during the New York State YMCA Swimming Championships, which ran Friday through Sunday at Ithaca College.
But the seventh-grader at Oneonta Middle School said he surprised himself with three top-three finishes in the boys 11-12 age-group, including a state title in the 200-yard freestyle.
“That was definitely the event I knew I would do the best in because that’s my best event,” said Gabe, 12, who swims for the Oneonta Family YMCA Orcas under the direction of head coach Doug Macomber. “I usually have some fuel left at the end, so I can usually pass some of the other swimmers.”
Gabe beat all of them in the 200 free, with a winning time of 2 minutes, 1.29 seconds to set an Orcas team record. Gabe said he dropped a total of six seconds off his previous best time over the weekend for his first state championship.
“I’ve been sixth (at states) before, so this is definitely the highest I’ve ever been,” said Gabe, who had the fourth-best preliminary time to qualify for the state final. “I didn’t think I was going to do that well. That’s why it surprised me.”
Gabe went on to take second in the 100 free in 56.54 seconds and third in the 50 butterfly in 29.16.
Teammate Finn Frye, 14, finished third in the 13-14 boys 100 backstroke (58.85), fifth in the 50 free (24.00) and sixth in the 100 free (52.73).
A total of 23 Orcas competed in the state championships, which featured roughly 1,500 swimmers from 46 teams. Gabe and Finn contributed to 15 individual and six relay finishes in the top 16 for the Orcas.
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.