Graziadei also averages a team-best 8.1 rebounds. She and the majority of her teammates are no stranger to this round of postseason play, either. Last season, Oriskany played South Kortright in a Class D state quarterfinal at Herkimer County Community College and lost, 47-38. The Rams held Graziadei to four points en route to their second straight appearance in the state semifinals.
“We have a strong group that came back from last year,” said Meiss, whose team returned six players, including starters Graziadei, Shannon VanShufflin (5.8 points, 6.7 assists per game) and Jordan Sahl (10.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Madison Zizzi (7.0 ppg) and Brandi Zizzi (2.5 ppg) round out the starting five. “Those kids have been playing basketball together since fourth grade, so we have experience on our side.”
Franklin will definitely have the home-court advantage, however.
“The nice thing is, this is the fourth time we’ve played at Oneonta State, so it’s kind of like a second home court for us,” said Dutcher, whose starting five includes senior forwards Haley Downin (7.2 ppg) and Kristen Heidenreich (1.4 ppg), along with freshman guard Mariah McNeilly (3.9 ppg). “There’s definitely excitement watching the girls in practice. They’ve got that look in their eyes that this is gravy on top right now, but we can win this game. It’s doable.
“I’m going to be happy if we play Franklin basketball — try to force tempo like we have all season long,” he continued. “We dig deep and put our foot on the gas pedal, especially in the third and fourth quarters. I don’t have any concerns about the kind of effort we’re going to get.”
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.