“At halftime, (OHS coach) Miller said we have to adjust and get out to their shooters,” Ruff said of a Waverly squad that all four of its three-pointers in the first half. “Natalie (Vanderlaan-Meyering) went out to the corner, which is a hard (contest) for her and everybody did a great job talking and getting out to shooters.”
Waverly (19-1), which won the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Large-School championship, pulled to 40-27 when Reylyn Schwartzhoff scored inside off a pass from Sabrina Bowman 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Sixteen seconds later, Kylie Newman was fouled by Ruff after stealing the ball near midcourt. But Newman missed both free throws and the Yellowjackets scored the next 13 points _ nine coming from Ruff.
She hit a driving layup and turned a deflection into a transition layup. Then Ruff hit a pull-up jumper in the lane before saving her best for last.
Starting on the left side of the court, Ruff made a strong drive down the right side of the lane. She then got great lift as she went up, drew contact and hit the layup. Her free throw made it 53-27 with 3:53 to play.
“Mariah Ruff is a great player,” Waverly coach Miller said. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years and she’s one of the top players I’ve coached against, and I’ve seen some very good players.”
Added Oneonta High coach Miller: “It’s obvious as far as ability and talent that she’s separated herself from anybody in this area. But then you look at her competitive spirit and drive, and it’s another way she’s separated herself. Skill-wise, she’s ahead of the competition and the way she competes, she just wants it more than the other players.”
Vanderlaan-Meyering finished with nine points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, and Kelsey Baker contributed five points and eight rebounds for the Yellowjackets, whose lone loss this season came against Class AA standout Penfield.
“I like our chances (in the sectional final), but again, it’s basketball,” said Ruff, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in OHS’ win over Horseheads on Sunday. “Anything can happen. You have to go into every game like you’re an equal or even that (the opponent) is better.”
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.