By Dean Russin
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — The first half belonged to Morris on Saturday at Oneonta State.
Jordan Beers owned the second.
Junior point guard Beers scored 24 of her game-high 33 points after halftime, leading the Franklin girls basketball team to a 51-37 victory over Tri-Valley League rival Morris in the Section Four Class D championship game.
“The first half, we did a good job containing her and letting some other people shoot the ball,” said Morris coach Rhoda Flint, whose seventh-seeded Mustangs (15-5) scored the first six points of the final en route to an 18-17 lead at halftime. “The second half, that’s the thing about Jordan. She can bring it on whenever she wants and she did that in the third quarter. When she goes from one end to the other, you just can’t stop her.”
Beers highlighted Franklin’s 14-5 third quarter with 12 points — on two three-pointers, a pair of transition layups and a baseline drop-in. She scored the last seven points of the period, which ended with the top-seeded Purple Devils (20-0) ahead, 31-23.
“The girls worked their butts off in practice this week and she’s just good,” Flint said. “You take away her drive, she just pulls up and hit’s a fade-away jumper. I don’t know. She’s just good.”
Beers capped her performance with 12 more points in the fourth quarter. She followed two end-to-end transition layups — one off a steal and another off a defensive rebound — with an 8-for-10 effort from the free throw line that helped keep Franklin ahead by double digits for the majority of the period.
“Jordan on the breakaway is lights out,” said Franklin coach Mike Dutcher, whose program won its first sectional championship. “She’s either going to score or get fouled or both.”
Beers also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“This is our third time playing them and we have pretty much tried every defense that we’ve known to try to stop her,” Flint said. “No one else has been able to do it, either. Every coach I talked to says, ‘We did this and we did that.’ When she graduates next year, I’m going to ask their coach, if he was us, what would he have done?”
Beers helped Franklin to its second consecutive sectional championship of the 2012-13 academic year as the Purple Devils played Morris to a 1-1 tie to earn a share of the Section Four Class D girls soccer title in the fall. Franklin advanced to the state tournament in soccer, too, winning a penalty-kick shootout for the right to represent Section Four.
“It’s a dream come true, it really is,” said Beers, who was quick to praise her teammates. “To just be dominant in basketball and soccer, it’s been fun. This is a great bunch of girls to do it with. I love my team to death and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.
“We’re a very athletic team and we proved that in soccer,” she continued. “We have all the same girls and we’re very athletic and we can run. Our goal is to run the other team off the floor.”
Haley Wist’s 10 points and four steals paced Morris (15-5), which upset second-seeded South Kortright and third-seeded Davenport to reach the title game. The Mustangs also received nine points from Kelsea Webster, eight from Amanda Flint and a team-best 10 rebounds from McKenna Hungerford.
“They always give us a good game, no matter what sport,” Beers said of Morris, which received four points apiece from Webster and Flint in a 10-7 first quarter. “It’s always a tough game between Franklin and Morris because they want it as much as we do and they’re just as competitive as we are.”
Marisa Cawley contributed nine points, five rebounds and three blocks for the Purple Devils, who advanced to a state quarterfinal against Section Three champion Oriskany (20-0) at 3 p.m. this Saturday back at Oneonta State.
Cawley in particular may be put to the test Saturday as the 5-foot-10 junior center likely will get up-close-and-personal with 6-1 center Christina Graziadei, who had 31 points and 17 rebounds in Oriskany’s 40-37 Section Three championship defeat of New York Mills on Wednesday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“That’s going to be different,” said Cawley, who is usually the tallest girl on the floor. “You’ve just got to box them out and then they’ll get called for over-the-back and they’ll get their five fouls and be done. So the key is to box that girl out.”
Even though Franklin hasn’t seen Oriskany play, Dutcher said his girls will be ready.
“We’ve got a week to prepare and we will be prepared,” he said. “We’ll give them our best shot next Saturday.”
Franklin 51, Morris 37
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Championship at Oneonta State
7-MORRIS (15-5): Kelsea Webster 2 5-6 9, Haley Wist 4 2-4 10, Amanda Flint 4 0-0 8, Bridgette Colburn 0 0-0 0, Jenna Turner 1 0-0 3, Tessa Hitchcock 0 0-0 0, Alexis Forgit 1 0-2 3, Alexis Joy 0 0-0 0, McKenna Hungerford 1 2-2 4, Lexi Bookhout 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13 9-14 37.
1-FRANKLIN (20-0): Jessica Downin 0 0-0 0, Marisa Cawley 4 1-2 9, Kristin Heidenreich 0 0-2 0, Alexis Hurlburt 0 0-0 0, Mariah McNeilly 1 0-0 2, Paige Fairchilds 1 0-0 2, Jordan Beers 10 11-15 33, Haley Downin 1 0-0 2, Keri Schmidt 1 0-0 3, Mara Stalter 0 0-0 0, Lindsay Huyck 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 12-19 51.
Morris 10 8 5 14 — 37
Franklin 7 10 14 20 — 51
Three-point field goals: M 2 (Turner, Forgit); F 3 (Beers 2, Schmidt). Rebounds: M 30 (Hungerford 10); F 32 (Beers 12). Turnovers: M 10; F 13.
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.