The bigger they are …
Junior guard Mariah Ruff and senior center Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering scored 16 points apiece Saturday as Oneonta High’s girls remained undefeated with a 58-46 non-league basketball victory at Pearl River.
Both teams qualified for state-tournament play last season as the five-time Section Four champion Yellowjackets (6-0) reached the Class B state quarterfinals and Pearl River (3-1) made it to the semifinal round in Class A.
“It was a really, really hard-fought game,” said OHS coach Matt Miller, who received 15 points, 11 rebounds and six steals from senior forward Kelsey Baker. “We knew going in it would be a step up in competition. They were almost mirror images of us. They pressed and pushed the tempo, and size-wise, they matched up well. We never really felt comfortable with any lead.”
OHS helped itself at the free throw line with a 12-for-13 team effort, including a 9-for-10 performance from Baker. Pearl River went 7-for-13 at the foul line.
Ruff hit two three-pointers and Vanderlaan-Meyering contributed 16 rebounds and four blocks for the Jackets, who outscored Pearl River, 24-15, over the second and third quarters.
“She’s playing at a different level right now,” Miller said of the 6-foot-2 Vanderlaan-Meyering, who played more than 25 minutes. “She’s stepped up for us and she was on the floor a lot (Saturday). That gave her a lot more opportunities to score. She’s really taken her game to a different level and we’re hoping she can maintain it.”
OHS played without starting senior guard Dani Nicosia, who suffered a concussion during the Jackets’ 62-23 victory over Southern Tier Athletic Conference rival Chenango Forks last Wednesday. Miller said Nicosia is out indefinitely.
On Saturday, Miller brought up junior varsity standout Brie Baker to fill Nicosia’s roster spot. Miller said sophomore point guard Baker, who was scoreless Saturday, will return to the JV team but may be called up again for the postseason.