ONEONTA — South Kortright's dominance over the Delaware League in girls basketball extended to a section title Saturday, March 7, with a 48-25 win over fourth seed Stamford in the Section IV Class D girls basketball finals at SUNY Oneonta's Dewar Arena.
"We really worked hard for it, and it feels good to beat someone local for it, someone that is our big rival," said SK senior Azalyn Brunson, who led all scorers with 16 points. "From day one this is what we wanted to do and we did it."
The win gives the Rams, the second seed in the tournament, their second straight section title in the sport, their fourth in six years, fifth in nine years and seventh in 12 years. SK has also won 11 straight Delaware League titles in girls basketball.
"It comes down to the girls," said SK coach Josh Burroughs. "They are the ones who are willing to put in the hard work, who are willing to put in the work in the off season.
"It is a tradition for us," Burroughs continued. "A lot of these players were watching the teams at the beginning of this run from their seats in the crowd. They were little girls when it began. But they decided that they wanted it for themselves and they have stepped up and gotten it."
Stamford took an early lead, 5-2, but the Rams scored the last 11 points of the first quarter, to lead 13-5. Both teams doubled their total in the second quarter, giving SK a 26-10 lead at halftime.
Burroughs said the Rams keyed on Stamford's junior center Melanie Hoyt, trying to deny her the ball, and failing that, making it hard for her to shoot when she got the ball. Hoyt scored 10 points in the game.
"We wanted to make them uncomfortable, and we wanted to limit their shots," he said. "I think we were able to do that, and you saw them make a lot of turnovers early as a result."
Stamford coach Lonnie Nickerson called the Rams' defense "stifling," and said SK made better adjustments following the team's previous meeting, a 57-51 home win for SK on Jan. 29.
"You have got to give it to South Kortright," Nickerson said. "They came out and played a physically aggressive game. The first time we played, it was a one-possession game until the very end. Both teams made adjustments from that game, but their adjustments were the ones that were successful."
The Indians had their best quarter in the third, but were still outscored, 14-11, by the Rams, and trailed, 40-21, with eight minutes to play. The game never got closer than 15 points in the second half, and Stamford scored just two baskets in the fourth quarter.
Emily Clark scored 11 points to lead Stamford (18-5), which got its other four points from Gwenyth Tompkins. The Indians will graduate two seniors in the spring, Angelina Caiazza and McKayla Palmatier, but will have all five starters returning next season.
"We're basically bringing the whole team back," Nickerson said. "The three juniors who start have been playing (varsity) together for two and a half years, and they are the core of the team."
Lacy Eckert scored 10 points for South Kortright (19-3), which will play the Section IX Class D champion, Livingston Manor, in a state quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at Sullivan West.
"It is one game at a time for us," Burroughs said, "but first we are going to take a step back and enjoy this."
South Kortright 48, Stamford 25
Section IV Class D girls basketball finals
at SUNY Oneonta
Stamford ..... 5 5 11 4 - 25
South Kortright ..... 13 13 14 8 - 48
STAMFORD (18-5): Leanna McAuliffe 0 0-0 0, Georgia Lynch 0 0-0 0, Michaela Lynch 0 0-0 0, Emily Clark 4 0-0 11, McKayla Palmatier 0 0-0 0, Melanie Hoyt 3 4-6 10, Gwen Tompkins 2 0-2 4. TOTALS 9 4-8 25.
SOUTH KORTRIGHT (19-3): Mya Stelmashcuk 0 0-0 0, Carli Pardee 3 0-2 7, Lacey Eckert 5 0-1 10, Azalyn Brunson 5 5-10 16, Sonia Reeves 2 1-1 5, Lauren Schmid 2 0-0 6 , Emily Burns 1 0-0 2, Grace Schneider 1 0-0 2, Mazzy Williams 0 0-0 0 . TOTALS 19 6-14 48 .
Three-point baskets: S 3 (Clark 3); SK 4 (Schmid 2, Pardee, Brunson).