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Local Sports

March 9, 2013

What's on the inside counts

OHS girls look to control paint against Utica ND

This one might fall on the shoulders of Oneonta High’s big people.

Seniors Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering and Kelsey Baker will have decided height advantages inside when the Yellowjackets (19-1) face Section Three champion Utica Notre Dame (17-5) in a Class B girls basketball state quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Onondaga Community College.

“Their tallest girl is 5-foot-11 and other than that, they don’t have much size,” 6-2 center Vanderlaan-Meyering said following practice Tuesday at OHS. “I think (getting the ball inside) is going to be more important than it has been in other games.

“The guards are supposed to give us more looks, so we’re going through our plays seeing where the posts are open and (our guards) are trying to get it to us,” she continued.

Though the obvious story line is that each side possesses a potential First Team all-state selection in Oneonta’s Mariah Ruff and UND’s Emily Durr, this one could be decided by other factors.

The winner Saturday likely will get a matchup against three-time defending Class B state champion Irvington — a Section One school that played Section 11’s Southampton in a state quarterfinal Friday at Hofstra University — in a state semifinal Friday at Hudson Valley CC in Troy.

Irvington’s streak of state titles started with a 54-33 win over the Yellowjackets in the 2010 Class B state final. That marked OHS’ second straight loss in the state final — the first a 39-35 setback to Nanuet.

The past two seasons, the Yellowjackets haven’t cleared the quarterfinal hurdle. OHS lost, 62-58, in overtime two years ago against Cazenovia and then fell, 47-39, to South Jefferson last season.

Yellowjackets third-year coach Matt Miller said getting back to Troy was a preseason goal for his team.

“It’s certainly been a goal, there’s no question about it,” he said of a squad that won its sixth straight Section Four title last Saturday with a 41-33 triumph over Seton Catholic Central. “But I don’t think you can look at this season as a failure if we were to lose this weekend because the kids have accomplished to much.

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