By Rob Centorani
ONEONTA _ As soon as Oneonta High's girls slowed down in the second half, their scoring pace sped up.
A 17-point first half chock full of hurried shots and rushed passes gave way to a much calmer approach that led to 35 second-half points.
The result was a 52-33 Southern Tier Athletic Conference basketball victory over Seton Catholic Central on Friday in a rematch of last year's STAC final.
Neither side appeared to be as smooth as when they met at Binghamton University's Events Center last February, when OHS earned a 42-34 victory and its first STAC title.
That was especially true during a first half in which they combined to shoot 13-for-50 as the Yellowjackets took a 17-16 lead.
"We're not the type of team that can break people down 1-on-1," OHS coach Bob Zeh said of his team's approach during the opening half. "We had a tough first half, but I think we showed when we execute and run our stuff, we can score."
Sienna Wisse symbolized Oneonta's night more than anyone. By halftime, she had one point on 0-for-11 shooting from the floor and a 1-for-2 effort from the foul line. In the second half, she shot 4-for-7 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line in finishing with a game-high 16 points.
"We had trouble in the beginning," said Wisse, a junior guard who earned Second Team all-state honors last season, when the Yellowjackets went 25-1 and advanced to the Class B state final. "We have a tendency to rush.
"In the second half, we calmed down and ran our plays," she continued. "Once we moved the ball and started being patient, we started scoring."
The Yellowjackets (8-1, 5-1) trailed, 27-25, after the Saints' Alicia Garbade hit a layup with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
But Oneonta responded with an 18-0 run that included nine points from Wisse.
The spurt started with back-to-back three-pointers by Lesley Harlem and Wisse, both of the catch-and-shoot variety. Harlem's second three of the night _ a high-arching shot from right of the key _ gave Oneonta the lead for keeps, at 28-27 with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
Wisse's came from left of the key with 1:05 to play in the third. Wisse then hit a pull-up jumper from 17 feet 40 seconds later to give the Jackets a 33-27 lead heading into the final quarter.
"Eventually, good shooters make shots and she's a good shooter," SCC coach Colleen Jayne said of Wisse. "I told our kids if she gets hot, we're in trouble."
The first 2:10 of the final quarter marked Oneonta's best offensive stretch of the night.
Senior Val Ridgway, a 6-foot center, scored back-to-back inside baskets off entry passes from Wisse and Harlem, the latter making the score 37-27. Wisse then cut hard through the lane and received a perfectly timed pass from Erin Wolstenholme, positioned at the top of the key. Wisse converted the layup with 4:50 left to give the Jackets a 12-point cushion.
"We have to use screens to get people open," Zeh said of his motion offense. "A lot of teams these days are dribble-drive and kickout or dribble-drive and dunk, but we can't play that way."
A free throw by Ridgway (10 points) with 2:03 to play made it 43-27.
Though the Yellowjackets' offense looked as painful as a root canal at times Friday, its defense was very reminiscent of the 2008-09 version. Playing mostly in their patented 2-3 zone with some 1-3-1 mixed in, Jackets defenders harassed the Saints (3-5) into a 15-for-49 shooting display.
"Our defense has saved us in a bunch of games," Wisse said. "It's because of our defense we didn't get down by 20 points. Our defense is our strongest point."
Oneonta 52, Seton CC 33
SETON CATHOLIC CENTRAL (3-5): Mary Armstrong 2-7 0-0 5, Haley Farrell 0-1 0-0 0, Alicia Garbade 3-7 0-0 6, Carolyn Gosney 1-2 1-2 3, Chrissa Guy 0-1 0-0 0, Abby Harrington 2-9 0-0 5, Chloe Jones 2-7 0-2 4, Maria Korchak 0-0 0-0 0, Amy Ludovici 1-7 0-0 2, Jenna Matthews 4-6 0-0 8, Karen Rwamakuba 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Shaheen 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15-49 1-4 33.
ONEONTA (8-1, 5-1): Karsen Shultz 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Bredin 2-3 0-3 4, Dani Nicosia 1-1 1-3 3, Seneca Baldwin 1-2 0-0 2, Jenn Dilello 0-2 0-0 0, Lesley Harlem 2-4 0-0 6, Kasondra Hughes 3-3 1-2 7, Erin Wolstenholme 2-9 0-0 4, Val Ridgway 3-8 4-6 10, Sienna Wisse 4-18 7-8 16. TOTALS: 18-50 13-22 52.
Seton CC3 13 11 6 _ 33
Oneonta6 11 16 19 _ 52
Three-point field goals: S 2 (Armstrong, Harrington); O 3 (Harlem 2, Wisse). JV score: OHS, 48-33.
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.