By Greg Klein
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — A good start helped Morris to another upset as the seventh-seeded Mustangs topped No. 3 Davenport, 39-32, in a Section Four Class D girls basketball semifinal Tuesday at Oneonta State.
“That has been our nemesis all year,” Davenport coach Ray Preston said after his team outscored Morris in each of the final three quarters but failed to make up a 17-5 first-quarter deficit. “Our two losses to South Kortright, we had two bad first quarters. In big games like that, the team has just started off poorly, and we’ve had to scratch our way back into games.
“I wish I knew what it was,” he continued. “We just have trouble settling down.”
Morris coach Rhoda Flint, whose team upset second-seeded South Kortright on Friday with the help of a strong first quarter, said she wasn’t sure why her team started fast again.
“I don’t know, but it certainly wasn’t our best game,” said Flint, whose team has knocked off both of the teams that reached the Delaware League crossover this season, including two-time defending sectional champion SK. “Our team walked off the court knowing we could play much better.
“We had trouble adjusting our defense to their offense,” she continued. “We left the middle open too much and when we would sag in on them, they beat us to the basket.”
Morris guard Kelsea Webster scored seven of her game-high 13 points in the first quarter. Her other six points came during a fourth-quarter run that secured the win for the Mustangs.
“Kelsea had a great game tonight,” Flint said. “She can pretty much do whatever we ask her to do for us. They went to a box-and-one to try to take her out of the game, but we were still able to find a way to get her the ball.”
Morris led by 14 points with 7:18 left in the second quarter, when Amanda Flint made a long two-point jumpshot to make it 19-5. But the Wildcats slowly got back into the game, cutting their deficit to six three times in the second half.
Sarah Haight made a deep two-pointer from the left corner to make it 23-17 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Flint answered for Morris with a three-pointer at 3:23.
With 1:44 left in the quarter, Davenport’s Sam Maidens hit a three from the left corner to make it 26-20. Haley Wist then made a layup and drew a foul on Melissa Sperry. She made the free throw for a 29-20 Morris lead with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
Webster scored the first five points of the fourth quarter. With 4:07 remaining, McKenna Hungerford scored inside on a pass from Alexis Forgit to put Morris up 36-22.
Davenport came back again, closing on a 10-3 run. Maidens rebounded a missed free throw and scored to make it 38-32 with one minute left. Then Cassie Wubbenhurst scored on a putback with 38 seconds left to make it 38-32, but that was as close as the Wildcats could get.
Flint closed the scoring with 7 seconds to play by making 1 of 2 free throws.
The Wildcats shot 9-for-21 from the foul line, including 4-for-14 in the first three quarters.
“We normally shoot free throws pretty well,” Preston said. “We certainly didn’t do anything from the line in the first half.
“Think of the missed shots,” he continued. “Oh, just think of all those missed shots.”
Haight led Davenport (17-4) with eight points.
Hungerford had seven points, 12 rebounds and three steals for Morris (15-4), which received six points and eight rebounds from Forgit.
Morris will play No. 1 seed Franklin in the Section Four Class D championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday back at Oneonta State. The Tri-Valley League West Division rivals have played twice this season, with Franklin winning both.
On Feb. 1, Jordan Beers scored 38 points and became the all-time leading scorer in Franklin history during a 70-61 home win over the Mustangs. Marisa Cawley scored 21 points for the Purple Devils. Flint and Wist led Morris with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
On Jan. 15 in Morris, Beers scored 35 points, including 24 in the second half, as Franklin won, 56-51. Webster scored 15 points to lead Morris.
“We are looking forward to playing Franklin again,” Flint said. “It is not like we don’t know what they do. Jordan Beers, you can’t stop her, but you have to find a way to slow her down while you contain the rest of their team.
“We’ve tried a lot of things to stop Jordan this season,” she continued, “We’ll try to come up with something else for Saturday. I know that we are playing a lot better on defense now then when we played them the last time.”