The Daily Star
---- — Staff Report
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.
Sam Alicandri made three three-pointers en route to a team-best 15 points for Pearl River, which received 14 points from Missy Scognamiglio.
Hayley Dower and Minnie Webster also hit threes for OHS, which opens play in the Pete Hyde Tournament against Owego at 5 p.m. Thursday. Oneonta will meet Vestal the following day in the second and final round of the tournament, which is hosted by multiple venues. The Jackets will play both of their STAC rivals at Johnson City Middle School.
Cooperstown 74, Westmoreland 44
Senior guard Ethan Bliss made a program-record nine three-point field goals en route to a varsity-best 34 points as Cooperstown cruised to a Center State Conference Division III road victory Saturday.
“He was just on fire,” Cooperstown coach Dave Bertram said of Bliss, who also hit three two-pointers and went 1-for-2 at the foul line. “He’s coming off good screens and has a quick release. The ball comes to him more often than not and we need him to score. We rely on him quite a bit.”
Bliss’ second 30-point game of the season featured two threes in each of the first three quarters and three more in the fourth. He eclipsed the single-game program record of eight three-pointers set by Brennan Hill in 2000, the season before Bertram became the Redskins’ varsity coach.
Bliss has an area-best 34 threes in seven games for Cooperstown, which improved to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in division play. Hunter-Tannersville senior Zach Mudge ranks second among area boys basketball players with 19 threes.
Seth Schaeffer set Cooperstown’s single-season program record of 76 threes during the 1992-93 season and hit 76 more during the 1993-94 season. Schaeffer is the Redskins’ all-time leader for three-pointers, too, with 217 from 1991-1994.
Sawyer Haney contributed 10 points Saturday for the Redskins, who received seven points – all during Cooperstown’s 25-13 first quarter – from Australian exchange student Noah Sims. Bertram said Sims will return to Australia on Jan. 10.
Tyler Taverne scored 14 points to pace Westmoreland, which received 13 points from John Gerace.
Cooperstown will host the Dick White Holiday Tournament on Thursday and Friday. Sidney and Cobleskill will open the event at 4 p.m. Thursday, with the Redskins and Fort Plain to follow at 7:30 p.m.
The consolation and championship games are scheduled for 6 and 7:30 p.m., respectively, on Friday.
Walton’s Dylan Wood and Mike Bears earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the lower and upper weights, respectively, after winning championships for the host school of the Cuneen Doane Tournament on Saturday.
Wood capped an undefeated run to the 113-pound title with a 2-1 decision over teammate Logan Robinson in the final. Beers completed his unbeaten day with a 5-1 decision over Liberty’s Andy Martinez at 182 pounds.
Tabor VanValkenburg contributed a second-place finish at 106 pounds for the Warriors, who placed seventh in the 13-team tournament with 111.5 points. Homer won the team title with 248.5 points – 45.5 ahead of runner-up Sidney.
Colin Izard and Alex Avolio won championships for eighth-place Unadilla Valley, which amassed 91 points. Izard earned the 132-pound crown with a 12-2 major decision over Sherburne-Earlville’s Brandon Alshymer. Avolio edged Sidney’s Kai Sabada, 7-6, in the 195-pound title match.
UV also got a second from Tyler Olson at 138 pounds.
Dylan Gifford (145), Nick Jump (160) and Austin Dean (285) contributed seconds for Sidney.
Noah DeDominicus’ runner-up finish at 170 pounds paced Delhi, which placed ninth with 82 points.
Grey Bennis forfeited his consolation final and placed fourth for Edmeston, which rounded out the team scoring with 19 points.
Kevin Thayer and Ryan Marszal each went 6-0 to lead Unatego during the Owego Duals, which ran Friday and Saturday.
Thayer finished with four pins, a technical fall and a major decision at 152 pounds for the Spartans, who received two pins, two forfeits and two decisions from Marszal.
Unatego went 3-3 at the tournament, including a 45-42 victory over Owego that Bradey Bean secured by pinning Isaiah Martin 56 seconds into the final period of their 220-pound match.
The Spartans also defeated Candor, 58-18, and Norwich, 45-23. They lost to Pittsford, 54-18; Newark Valley, 50-25; and Union-Endicott, 52-31.
Unatego will compete in the 20-team Windsor Christmas Tournament, which runs Thursday and Friday.