This past Saturday, Irvington won its third Federation state title in four years with a 65-48 victory over Buffalo’s Cardinal O’Hara.
Given those numbers, it’s safe to say the Yellowjackets were the second best Class B team in the state this past season.
Why stop at Class B, though?
During the Yellowjackets’ 20-2 season, they twice faced Class A Troy. Oneonta opened its season with a 45-32 victory over Troy, which also lost, 45-35, to the Yellowjackets on Feb. 4.
Troy won the Class A state title with a 46-30 win over a Maine-Endwell squad that lost, 50-34, to OHS in a Southern Tier Athletic Conference semifinal Feb. 14.
OHS received no plaques commemorating a Class A state championship, but it appears the Yellowjackets would have had a very good chance to win that tournament.
For my money, since the Yellowjackets started their Section Four-record string of six consecutive sectional titles that the 2012-13 version was their best.
I don’t say that lightly. The 2008-09 squad that went 25-1 and lost, 39-35, to Nanuet in the Class B state final possessed plenty of talent, including two Daily Star Player of the Year recipients in Madie Harlem (2009) and Sienna Wisse (2011).
But that team didn’t have anyone the caliber of Mariah Ruff.
What she did this postseason was remarkable, saving her best for last.
In a state quarterfinal against Utica Notre Dame, Ruff had 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Yellowjackets to a 57-52 victory, outplaying fellow Division I prospect Emily Durr in the process.
Then against an Irvington squad that had D-I recruits Lexi Martins (Lehigh) and Brittni Lai (Marist), Ruff finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. To my eye, she was the best player on the court that morning, especially after halftime when she scored 21 points.
After the state semifinal, Ruff impressed me even more. I pulled her aside, knowing at some point I had to ask her about the layup she missed in the closing seconds that would have tied the score. I hated to have to ask it because she played so well.