BINGHAMTON — Very few things have troubled the South Kortright Rams this season.
SK has won every game it's played on its way to a Delaware League championship, a Section IV Class D title and on Sunday, another trip to the Class D girls basketball final four.
The song remained the same Sunday, as the Rams overwhelmed Section XI champion Smithtown Christian at the Floyd L. Maines Arena, 65-35.
“We did what we wanted to do early on. Our pressure helped us go on a little run and get some points on the board,” South Kortright coach Josh Burroughs said. “And when we weren’t scoring in transition, we were able to pound on our sets inside and get the ball to Azy (Azalyn Brunson) and Jordan (Finch), and they did nice job in the high-low, finishing the ball.”
The Rams started Sunday's game with a 14-0 run, and never looked bothered by anything the Knights showed them.
Finch scored six points in the opening run and Brunson had five before Smithtown Christian (11-9) got on the board.
“Their two bigs make it so difficult,” Smithtown Christian coach John Vaeth said. “This is the first time we’ve had a team in the playoffs in 40 years and the first time we’ve had a varsity team in 20 years.”
“They press well, they’re well coached, but overall it was when 14 (Finch) got it on the high post. She’s really good and really hard to stop,” he said.
Finch finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. She also had three rebounds and dished out eight assists, many of which found Brunson underneath for easy lay ins.
“No one expected us to get this far,” Finch said. “We set goals for this season and we just keep knocking them down.”
While Finch was dominating the high post, Brunson was busy down low.
The SK junior forward finished with a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds, playing sparingly in the second half as the Rams held onto a large lead.
SK got out to a 24-6 advantage after the first quarter, and a 42-12 lead at halftime.
Ram sophomore Carli Pardee had 14 points, 12 of which came on her team-best four 3-pointers.
“Not only does she stretch the floor for us, it allows teams not to pack that paint on us,” Burroughs said. “As a sophomore, she’s really hitting shots for us and shooting well.”
SK’s offense, working through Finch and Brunson, has been efficient all season, but its defensive pressure throughout its undefeated run has been crucial to its success. Sunday the defense dominated again as South Kortright forced 28 turnovers and held Smithtown to 24.5 percent shooting.
Smithtown eighth-grader Abigail Loiacono led all scorers with 20 points, but she was the only Knight to score more than seven.
The win advances the Rams to their second Class D final four berth in the past three years, something Pardee says is a great accomplishment, but doesn’t allow them to celebrate just yet.
“It feels good, we played really well, but this is still nerve-racking,” she said. “We have more games we want to win and more work to do.”
SK (24-0) takes on Section X Champion Edwards-Knox at 10 a.m. Friday at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Rams haven’t faced the Cougars this season, but Burroughs said he had a chance to watch some of their 64-18 win over Copenhagen in the quarterfinals.
“We were able to watch some of the live stream that was out against Copenhagen. They’re a quality team. It’s almost like a mirror image of ourselves,” he said. “They press, they run, and they shoot the three.
“This is certainly exciting right now, I’m sure the girls will stay hungry and now it’s about putting together a game plan for Edwards-Knox,” he said
SK 65, Smithtown Christian 35
Class D Girls Quarterfinals
Floyd L. Maines Arena, Binghamton
South Kortright ….. 24 18 14 9 – 65
Smithtown Christian ….. 6 6 12 11 – 35
South Kortright (24-0): Azalyn Brunson 6 6-8 18, Emily Burns 0 0-0 0, Emily Feltman 1 0-0 2, Jordan Finch 4 3-4 11, Carli Pardee 5 0-0 14, Sonia Reeves 3 1-2 7, Anna Reinshagen 4 0-0 8, Kassidy Wright 2 0-0 4, Lauryn Schmid 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25 10-14 65.
Smithtown Christian (11-9): Abigail Loiacono 6 4-6 20, Jane McCabe 1 0-0 2, Dorothy Pierre 3 1-5 7, Alexa Weindorf 2 1-2 6. TOTALS: 12 6-13 35.
Three-point field goals: SK 5 (Pardee 4, Reinshagen); Sm 5 (Loiacono 4, Weindorf).