ONEONTA _ From a team standpoint, Oneonta High’s defenders dominated Friday night, specifically in the second half.Facing a Waverly squad that hadn’t experienced defeat in 19 outings this season, OHS’ press and its 3-2 zone held the Wolverines to 12 points after halftime before a packed crowd at Drago Gymnasium.
Individually, well … let’s just say Mariah was being Mariah.
Junior guard Mariah Ruff scored 28 points as the top-seeded Yellowjackets advanced to their sixth straight sectional final with a 60-30 romp over No. 4 Waverly in a Section Four Class B semifinal.
“They’re a great team,” said Ruff, who also had eight steals, six rebounds and four assists. “They were undefeated, besides tonight. I’m proud that we played defense and turned that defense into offense.”
Next for the Yellowjackets (18-1) will be a third meeting against Southern Tier Athletic Conference rival Seton Catholic Central in the Section Four Class B final at 5 p.m. March 2 at the Broome County Arena. The second-seeded Saints defeated Norwich, 48-36, in Friday’s other semifinal.
During the regular season, Oneonta defeated SCC, 56-29, on Jan. 9.
“We’ve beaten two incredible teams in a row _ tonight convincingly so,” said OHS coach Matt Miller, also referencing the Yellowjackets’ 58-57 win over Horseheads in the STAC championship game Sunday at Binghamton University’s Events Center. “Certainly, they deserve to have confidence in themselves (heading into the sectional final). But it’s also healthy to have some fear. Confidence is great, but you don’t want to be cocky.”
OHS set a Section Four girls basketball record last season by winning its fifth straight sectional title _ a streak that started with a 35-27 title-game win over Waverly in the 2008 Class A final.
“I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Ruff, who joined Oneonta’s varsity team as a freshman. “Last year, people said we couldn’t win, we couldn’t win, and we did it. This year, we’re expected to win, but we just need to keep fighting. You have to play every game like it’s your last. I just feel like the seniors are pushing everybody forward.”