OTEGO _ Those four three-pointers senior Sarah Mannina hit before a big crowd at Unatego’s gym on Thursday night clearly played a big role in the Spartans’ victory.But it might have been two plays Mannina made on the defensive end that played an even bigger role in Unatego’s 54-50 Midstate Athletic Conference semifinal basketball victory over Harpursville.
Mannina drew two charges on Hornets standout Miranda Drummond. Those plays helped keep Drummond on Hapursville’s bench for long spans in the second, third and fourth quarters and eventually led to Drummond fouling out.
“Honestly, probably the charges (were bigger than the threes) because that took her out of her game and actually out of the game,” Mannina said of her plays against Drummond, widely regarded as the best player in the MAC. “That helped us a lot because then they really only have one huge offensive threat and they’re easier to defend.”
The Spartans (14-3) ended Harpursville’s four-year run as league champions. The victory also put Unatego in position to win its first MAC title.
The last time Unatego won a league title came in 1985, when the Spartans won the second of back-to-back Susquenango Association titles.
They can end that drought with a victory over Unadilla Valley at 2 p.m. Feb. 16 at Oneonta State in the MAC final.
“I’m happy for these girls,” said Unatego coach Greg Bonczkowski, who saw Bainbridge-Guilford beat his squads in consecutive MAC finals in 2006 and 2007. “I’ve worked with most of them for three or four years and this will be their first opportunity to play for a league championship. I’m just really pleased for them.”
Mannina’s classmate, Casey Manzanero, scored a team-high 20 points and hit three three-pointers in the second half to help the Spartans repel a Hornets rally.