By Rob Centorani
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA _ She outscored a sectional semifinalist.
A vintage performance by junior point guard Jordan Beers sent Franklin to its first sectional final in girls basketball. She scored 38 points to lead the top-seeded Purple Devils to a 70-36 thumping of No. 8 Southern Cayuga in a Section Four Class D semifinal Tuesday at Oneonta State’s Dewar Arena.
Her offensive arsenal appeared to have no limits on this night. From the moment she hit a fade-away 17-footer on the left wing 8 seconds into play to the three-pointer she swished after dribbling right around a screen at the top of the key just before exiting with 1:30 left, Beers had it going.
It’s no wonder the sharpshooter has 1,851 varsity points.
Beers, a fifth-year varsity player, will get a chance to add to that number at 4 p.m. Saturday, when 19-0 Franklin opposes Morris (15-4) back at O-State. The seventh-seeded Mustangs defeated No. 3 Davenport, 39-32, in the second semifinal Tuesday at O-State.
“(Beers is) a tremendous player and she handed it to us pretty good,” said Southern Cayuga coach Ed Heslop, whose team regularly faces Class B and C competition in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference. “She’d certainly be one of the top players in our league _ if not the top, certainly one of the top. She had one heck of a game.”
Added teammate Marisa Cawley: “It’s great to watch her. She’s an amazing athlete and a great player. We’re so lucky to have her on the team. She gets points, yes, but she’s also a good team player. If she’s off, then another player is going to be on and when she’s on, we all get her the ball because we know what she can do.”
“On” certainly described Beers’ play Tuesday. She hit 6 of 8 shots from the field in scoring 13 points in the opening quarter. That production included two fade-away jumpers, a poke-away steal she turned into a layup, a putback, a pull-up jumper and a soft 6-footer off glass in transition. Oh, and she also snapped a hit-ahead pass that led to a fastbreak basket by Cawley.
“It feels great to get the crowd into and your teammates on the bench into it,” Beers said of her fast start. “It just picks up everyone’s confidence and it picks up our defense.”
Still, SC (12-9) stayed right with the Purple Devils in the first half.
In a 29-second span, Jessie Kopp and Sydney Cullen hit a wing jumper and a baseline three-pointer, respectively, the latter giving the Chiefs a 25-24 lead 43 seconds before halftime.
But Franklin took the lead for keeps 10 seconds later when Cawley inbounded to Paige Fairchilds, who hit a 12-footer in the lane. Then with 10 seconds left in the half, Beers hit a three-pointer from left of the circle off the dribble to make it 29-25.
“In the first half, we were getting people inside and getting drives,” Heslop said. “We drew a few fouls and got shots on the inside. In the second half, they just stepped back (into a 2-3 zone) and we did not have a strong outside shooting night.”
Franklin’s 2-3 zone in the second half turned the Chiefs into a stationary jump-shooting team and they could not find the range.
When Jessie Kopp (team-high 10 points) made a driving layup with 7:40 left in the third quarter, SC trailed, 30-27.
A 14-5 Franklin spurt ensued and Beers played a role in all of it.
She started it with a short floater following a strong drive along the left baseline. Next, came a pull-up jumper from the foul line.
Then she found Mariah McNeilly behind the defense for a fastbreak layup. A pair of Beers three-pointers off the dribble came 32 seconds apart, the latter making the score, 42-31. When she set up Fairchilds for a layup off a bounce pass, the Purple Devils led, 44-32.
“She is playing at a high level,” Franklin coach Mike Dutcher said of Beers, who came into the night averaging an area-best 25.5 points. “For people who have seen her play or people who are seeing her for the first time, I think she’s made a statement all year that she is one of the top two players in the section. Night in and night out, she proves it against all kids of complex defenses. She’s a player.”
The first 85 seconds of the fourth quarter produced eight Franklin points and all but ended things.
Beers started it with a coast-to-coast drive that ended with a lefty finish. Haley Downin then got a runner to go along the baseline before Cawley grabbed one of her 16 rebounds and converted the putback. Finally, Beers found the 5-foot-10 Cawley for an inside basket that made it 52-32 with 6:35 remaining.
“We’ve played her twice now and it seems whatever gym we’re in, we’re going to shoot well,” said Beers, who scored 29 points in Franklin’s 56-48 win over Schenevus in the Tri-Valley League final at O-State. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves.”
Cawley finished with 16 points and Downin grabbed 11 rebounds for Franklin, which will attempt to follow its sectional title during the soccer season with one in basketball.
“It’s a special, special time in Franklin,” said Dutcher, whose team beat Morris twice this season en route to winning the TV West Division title. “One thing they learned during soccer is they play in big games and they win big games. That has carried over into basketball season.”
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.