WATERTOWN — South Jefferson began the first day of the Frontier League girls finals with a dominating win over Indian River in the “A” Division title game at Jefferson Community College.
Afterward, the General Brown Lions shocked Lowville with a double-digit victory over the No. 1 seeded Red Raiders in the “B” Division game.
GENERAL BROWN 55, LOWVILLE 41
The one-point loss to Lowville on Jan. 27 has lingered in General Brown’s minds ever since. The Lions played tough games since then, but what they really wanted was another shot at the Red Raiders.
The opportunity came in the league finals and the Lions jumped all over it. After taking a 20-8 lead at the end of the first half, General Brown maintained control for the final three quarters, handing the more experienced Red Raiders (15-5) a shocking loss.
Once the buzzer rang, the team stormed the court.
The Lions (11-6), who started two freshmen and sophomore, could have collapsed late. After taking a 32-19 lead into halftime, they found themselves up by only five going into the final eight minutes.
“We knew that we couldn’t foul because our fouls were really killing us, they were shooting well from the free throw line,” Kori Nichols (15 points)said. “We could still be aggressive, but not reaching and not intentionally fouling.”
General Brown’s defense was aggressive from the jump. Instead of playing its typical 2-3 zone, General Brown realized from the last time it played Lowville that it needed to play a man-to-man defense to hold down the shooters.
It worked. Lowville’s lead scorer, Sydney Brown, scored only 11 points and hit just one 3-pointer. She was the only Raider to finish in double-digits. Anna Wood scored nine points.
To prepare during the week, General Brown practiced against its JV team and played 5-on-8.
“The reason we do that is to crank up the intensity and the pace of the game to improve our stamina, but for them to also constantly have their head on a swivel and increase that level of communication because there is always going to be somebody open,” Lions first-year coach Lindsay Hanson said. “So we have to try to be in help defense to find them, that was our goal today.”
A tight defense, particularly early, helped General Brown jump out to a sizable lead. The Lions hit a total of four treys, including back-to-back 3s from Nichols to start the game.
Once Lowville started bearing down on General Brown’s shooters, the Lions began to move the ball inside. Emma Dupee finished with 15 points, many of which came in the paint.
“All of us are very young, but we’re very motivated,” Dupee said. “I think we’ll go far in sectionals.” The FL “B” Division All-Stars named after the game were Sydney Brown, Emma Dening (Lowville), Sara Wood (Lowville), Emma Dupee, Kori Nichols, Hannah Malbouf (IHC), Karysn Fields (General Brown), Anna Wood and Emily Bombard (IHC). Brown was named MVP and Janelle Ferris of IHC and Chris Riley of Lowville were named co-coach of the year.
SOUTH JEFFERSON 67, INDIAN RIVER 43
South Jefferson is used to taking tremendous leads in the first quarter of games. However, it was surprising when the Spartans took a tremendous lead in the first quarter against Indian River in the “A” final.
The Warriors never recovered from the 24-2 deficit they faced after the first eight minutes of the game, despite performing better offensively.
The Spartans’ press prevented Indian River (10-10) from moving the ball much farther than half court.
“I think it was our intensity, the first time we played them we definitely came out a little slower,” Spartans guard Jackie Piddock said. “I think this time, we knew what was at stake and we knew to come out hard.”
Piddock had 10 steals to go along with her team-high 21 points. She and Megan Whitley locked down the front of the press that gave Indian River fits.
“We for once had five people playing aggressive and putting pressure on the ball,” Spartans coach Michelle Whitley said. “Because there was a little stint in the game where we had two playing aggressive and the other three weren’t and (Indian River) was breaking it, or vice versa. So it has to be all five people buying into the fact that we have to make them play faster that they want to play.”
The Warriors finally got their first basket at the tail end of the quarter when Adrien LaMora was able to get to the hoop and lay it in. She finished with 19 points to lead Indian River, Ravan Marsell also contributed a couple of 3-pointers in the second quarter to give the Warriors some life. The Warriors ended up outscoring South Jefferson in the second quarter, 18-16.
Though it wasn’t as drastic as the first quarter, South Jefferson (16-2) outscored Indian River 43-31 for the final three quarters. Despite taking such a big lead early, the Spartans didn’t take the next three quarters off.
“I think we definitely try to utilize those three quarters as much we can by bettering our knowledge of our plays, and the roles that we have to master for the tough sectional games we’re about to play,” Megan Whitley said.
In some spots throughout the game, Whitley served as point guard.
“Me and Abby Piddock run that next guard position if Jackie can’t get it,” Whitley said. “We try to relieve that pressure that she has a lot of the time.”
The “A” Division All-Stars named after the game were Jackie Piddock, Adrien LaMora, LaKaiya Butcher (Indian River), Abby Piddock, Taylor Scoville (South Jefferson), Layne Combs (Watertown), Megan Whitley, Emma Schafer (South Jefferson), Kiannah Ward (Carthage) and Madison Staples (Indian River). Piddock was named MVP and Michelle Whitley was named coach of the year.