By Rob Centorani
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA _ One might imagine there were a few OMGs, perhaps some :)s and maybe even an LOL or two.
After all, it was a couple of high school juniors typing with their thumbs after leading their respective basketball teams to Class B sectional titles last week.
“We’ve been texting,” Oneonta High’s Mariah Ruff said Tuesday at Drago Gymnasium when asked if she’s been communicating with Utica Notre Dame standout Emily Durr. “After the last game, we were talking about basketball. She was one of my best friends on the team.
“Emily and I were talking this summer, saying how cool it would be if we played each other and now it’s happening,” she continued.
You see, not only are Ruff and Durr two of the best players in the state, they also were teammates on an elite AAU basketball team this past summer. Oh, and they both made Second Team all-state last season, and barring something weird, both figure to be First Team all-state selections following this season.
It’s also highly likely that neither will have to worry about paying for their college tuition. Both have numerous Division I colleges seeking their talents.
As fate would have it, they have something else in common. Each will lead their teams in a Class B state quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Onondaga Community College.
Durr had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to help UND (17-5) to a 54-45 overtime victory over South Jefferson in the Section Three Class B final Thursday.
Two days later, Ruff had a game-high 14 points in the 19-1 Yellowjackets’ 41-33 triumph over Seton Catholic Central in the Section Four final.
They played together over the summer on the Albany City Rocks AAU squad, traveling to Orlando, Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans, and faced some of the top players in the country.
“She’s a great shooter,” Ruff said of Durr, who is 5-foot-11 and averages around 24 points for the Jugglers. “She can shoot from 5 feet behind the three-point line. She can also go to the basket well and she can shoot a floater. She’s a great passer. She can do everything and she’s tall.”
Ruff averages 17.5 points.
“(Ruff) looks to drive, but she can shoot real well, too,” Durr told a reporter from the Utica Observer-Dispatch on Tuesday. “She can take you off the dribble. She has sneaky speed and good moves to the basket. If you play off her, she’ll stick it in your face.”
The teams also have something in common. They scrimmaged each other before the season started.
“We did scrimmage them and we even did some AAU stuff over the summer with them,” said OHS coach Matt Miller, adding that the Yellowjackets held a slight advantage over the Jugglers in the scrimmage. “We have them a bunch of times on film and I got to watch the sectional final last week, so we’re real familiar with them.”
Even the coaches know each other.
“I competed against their coach in college,” Miller said of Mike Plonisch. “He played for Utica and I played for Ithaca, and we were the same year in school, so it goes back even further than the kids. We guarded each other, so we knew exactly who each other was when we crossed paths as coaches.”
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.