Add Class B All-State Co-Player of the Year to Jackie Piddock’s trophy case. The South Jefferson sophomore was awarded the honor Thursday when the New York State Sports Writers Association released its 2020 girls basketball All-State team. Piddock shares the award with Ella Anthony of Horace Mann.
Piddock was named last month as Times All-North Frontier League girls basketball MVP for the second consecutive year.
South Jefferson completed its season by defending its Class B Section 3 title with a 55-43 win over Bishop Grimes at Onondaga Community College. The Spartans (23-2) were a talented team composed of skilled role players that helped the offense and defense flow smoothly through most opponents. But at the center of South Jefferson’s 59.6 average points per game was Piddock, the point guard who routinely dropped 20 points per game while throwing in five 30-point performances.
Against a schedule that was chock-full of Class A and AA opponents, Piddock was often was most dominant player on floor, ultimately leading to her Player of the Year honor.
Here’s a look at her most notable games from the 2019-2020 season:
Dec. 26, Owego Free Academy, 35 points
South Jefferson won, 64-61
It can often be difficult to focus the day after Christmas and for South Jefferson, the day after Christmas meant a game against Owego Free Academy, a Section 4 Class B school that would finish the season 13-7 and in the state’s top 25.
This was only the Spartans’ fourth game of the season and undoubtedly their most challenging to that date.
Owego’s biggest weapon was 6-1 guard/forward Kaci Donovan.
“We had to stop their best player and we couldn’t really do that,” Piddock said. “She scored 45 points or something like that, it was a battle the whole time.”
Piddock did her best to match Donovan by scoring 35 points herself, the majority of which were two-pointers and free throws. The Spartans would go on to face plenty of other talented players following that game, but playing against Donovan served as an early test on how to limit star players.
“I remember going back and looking at film and seeing what she was able to do against us and how she was able to find those gaps to score,” Piddock said. “Coach (Michelle Whitley) watched the film too, us as a team came back together and we worked more on that defense to try and shut down those gaps and not let people get by us that easily, and have better help defense.”
Jan. 23, Indian River, 27 points
South Jefferson won, 55-42
Playing in the Frontier League “A” Division this season for the first time, South Jefferson had the opportunity to face more Class A teams than usual. That included Indian River, a young but talented team.
One of Indian River’s biggest strengths in 2019-20, was its size, and against South Jefferson they used that size to clog up the paint, making it difficult for the Spartans to work inside, ultimately resulting in a physical contest.
South Jefferson had become used to playing larger, more physical teams by this point in the season. Just before their game against Indian River, the Spartans played Section 2 Class AA Saratoga and lost, 71-33.
But playing against larger players, like those on Indian River, helped to toughen up Piddock and her teammates.
Piddock’s other takeaway was more mental. With Megan Whitley fouling out early in the fourth quarter and Indian River hanging on, staying in the right mind-set became critical.
“We had to adjust to (Whitley fouling out) and there were a lot of fouls going around, so trying to not really be as touchy, but still trying to hold our ground because it was such a physical game,” Piddock said. “I think our biggest challenge was mentally in that game.”
Piddock hit 16 of her 20 free throws.
Feb. 1, Our Lady of Mercy, 32 points
South Jefferson lost, 54-51
The final Class AA game South Jefferson played this past season came against Our Lady of Mercy from Section 5 at Onondaga CC.
Piddock finished with 32 points, but the Spartans remembered the game more for how it ended. Entering the fourth quarter with a 40-34 lead, South Jefferson struggled to slow down Mercy’s run and ended up being outscored 20-11 in the final quarter, costing the Spartans the victory.
“In the fourth quarter, we got down on ourselves,” Piddock said. “A lot of our players were in foul trouble so we weren’t really playing as hard of defense and so I know we were slacking off a bit on that. So, I think it showed us that we can’t focus on the aspects of game that we can’t control.”
The nonleague games on the Spartans’ schedule are put there by Whitley to help prepare the team for when they play more meaningful games against challenging teams in the playoffs, either sectionals or states.
To Piddock, the loss to Our Lady of Mercy served as an example of how quickly the game can get away from you.
Despite the loss, Piddock managed to score more than 30 points and hit three 3-pointers. She also collected eight steals.
Feb. 22, Homer, 35 points
South Jefferson won, 79-42, Sectional quarterfinal
Unlike, the games against Owego, Indian River and Mercy, South Jefferson didn’t seem to have much a problem against Homer.
For the Spartans, their quest for another sectional title and trip back to the state tournament began with a beatdown of the Trojans in Adams. Was Piddock’s mentality different come playoffs?
“I would like to say no, but yes, there definitely is a different mentality,” Piddock said. “It’s win or go home so you’re more dialed in so to say. You can’t just look to sectional finals and say ‘oh my gosh, I can’t wait to be there,’ you have to look at the team in front of you and try to beat them one at a time.
“Our team came out and we were excited to get back to the state because that’s where we were expected to be from the year before. We knew we had to take care of round one and move on.”
Piddock’s line against Homer was one of her best of the season — finishing with 35 points with six 3-pointers. She also recorded six assists.
The Spartans, as a whole, performed well that night. Nine different players scored.
March 7, Bishop Grimes, 28 points
South Jefferson won, 55-43, Sectional championship
South Jefferson almost didn’t make it to this game. In the semifinals the weekend prior, the Spartans just escaped being upset by Marcellus after a sluggish all-around performance.
The Spartans looked much more in control against Bishop Grimes but, being that it was the sectional finals, victory wasn’t going to come easy.
The most notable part of Piddock’s performance came in the second half where she scored 22 of her 28 points to close out the game. When the fourth quarter started, the Spartans were reminded by their coaches of the Mercy game and how quickly a lead could go away if you let it.
Piddock was much more active in the paint against Bishop Grimes as opposed to the perimeter. She only hit one 3-pointer, but finished with a team-high nine rebounds and four assists. She also managed to make seven of her eight free throws.
In Class D, Hammond’s Avery Kenyon was named to the first team. The junior averaged 21 points and led Hammond to the Section 10 Class D championship.
Along with Kenyon, teammates Kelsey Bennett and Kylie Vaughn made the fifth team and honorable mention, respectively.
Also in Class D, Copenhagen’s Brooke Smykla made the second team and Raegan Dalrymple made the fourth team.
Lyme’s Olivia Ososkalo made the third team, Edwards-Knox’s Abby Hart made the fourth team and Lucy Frary was named to the sixth team.
Heuvelton’s Rayna Cameron made the eighth team, while Chateaugay’s Chloe Champagne and Harrisville’s Tori Moore each made honorable mention.
In Class A, Malone’s Madison Ansari was named to the eighth team, Indian River’s Adrien LaMora, Malone’s Leah Gallagher and Massena’s Tori Jacobs were named as honorable mentions.
Canton’s Katie Chisholm (fifth team), Sarah Sieminski (10th team), South Jefferson’s Emma Schafer (honorable mention), Lowville’s Sydney Brown (honorable mention) and Ogdensburg Free Academy’s Emily Farrand (honorable mention) were also named to the Class B team.
In Class C, Thousand Islands’ Kennady Amo and St. Lawrence Central’s Marissa McLean were named to the sixth team, while Madrid-Waddington’s Alexis Sullivan made the ninth team.