OTEGO _ For a majority of Friday’s matchup of Midstate Athletic Conference girls basketball unbeatens, Unatego kept Unadilla Valley’s running game in check.
But the athletic Storm showed their speed during a nine-point run early in the fourth quarter that carried UV to a 55-52 victory Friday that clinched the MAC regular-season title.
“That’s our game, getting out and running,” said UV coach Brandi Backus, whose team improved to 13-1 and 10-0 in the MAC. “We like to fastbreak. We’re a quick team for our size. We like to push the ball.”
The Storm also received 13 second-half points from senior post player Amanda Off.
“This is huge,” said Off, who finished with 15 points. “My first couple of years (on the varsity team) we were were so bad and we’ve come such a long way. To be unbeaten on the season is awesome. I can’t wait to keep it going.”
That fourth-quarter run also allowed the Storm to overcome a 27-point night from Unatego senior standout Casey Manzanero.
Late in the first half, Manzanero and Sarah Mannina fueled a 9-0 run that turned a five-point deficit into a 26-22 halftime lead.
Manzanero hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 1:40 left in the half and made one from the opposite wing 35 seconds later. Mannina’s three-pointer from the left wing two seconds before halftime gave the Spartans a four-point lead.
It also might have led to a strategy change by Backus.
UV used a 1-3-1 zone throughout the first half but came out in the second half with a triangle-and-2 defense, with the chasers guarding Manzanero and Mannina.
“With Manzanero and Mannina, you have to be right up on them,” Backus said of her defensive change.
The teams played to a 13-all standoff in the third quarter and Unatego (12-3, 9-1) still held a 41-37 lead when Manzanero made a driving layup down the left side of the lane with 6:45 to play.