SYRACUSE — While the South Jefferson girls basketball team prepares for another run at a state title, the Copenhagen girls basketball team will be thinking over its Section 3 Class D final loss to Brookfield.
The third-seeded Golden Knights fell to No. 1 Brookfield 40-36 at Onondaga Community College despite a fourth quarter comeback attempt.
Later on Saturday at OCC, No. 2 South Jefferson repeated as Section 3 Class B champions with a 55-43 victory over No. 13 Bishop Grimes.
CLASS B FINAL
SOUTH JEFFERSON 55, BISHOP GRIMES 43
When the second half starts and South Jefferson is in a dog fight, a different Jackie Piddock steps on the court.
In the Spartans’ victory over Bishop Grimes in the Section 3 Class B title game, the Piddock that performed in the third and fourth quarters was an enhanced version of the already talented point guard.
She tried not to approach the game any differently, but the stat line alone suggests that she elevated to another level. In the first two quarters, Piddock put up six points (three field goals). In the final two quarters, she recorded 22 points (seven field goals and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.
“Yeah, she doesn’t like to lose,” Spartans coach Michelle Whitley said.
And the Spartans (22-2) rarely lose, but playoff games are different. South Jefferson isn’t blowing teams out like it did in the regular season The better opponents have made the games much tighter. Despite losing by 12, Bishop Grimes (15-10) never looked out of it.
So Piddock needed to be the closer.
“When my teammates are looking at me and are like, ‘we gotta do something,’ I kinda take that to do the best I can to help my team,” Piddock said.
While Piddock scored 22 in the second half, the rest of the Spartans combined for just eight. But their roles of being in the right spots and collecting the rebounds are just as important.
“I think we don’t try to switch anything up really, but she has the ball and she’s just that player,” said Jackie’s sister Abby Piddock, who scored five points. “When she gets it, she can go and she can just do that for us which is really nice.”
All around, the Spartans played a cleaner game than the one last weekend against Marcellus in the sectional semifinals. A full week of practice certainly helped.
“We really worked on our defense throughout this last week,” Abby Piddock said. “Help D, sliding over, we did a little bit of zone this week and some man, we switched it up a bit.”
The Cobras were relatively consistent from quarter to quarter, scoring nine, 11, 14 then nine points. Naywell Ayeil scored a team-high 12 points and Rhonee Shea-Pal had nine points.
For seniors Abby Piddock, Megan Whitley and Gabby Varcadipane, the last few games of their high school career are going to be some of their most exciting.
“Coming into these last few games, me and knowing Abby, the player that she is, we just want to go out there and get it done,” said Megan Whitley, who scored 10 points. “We’ve been here for I don’t know how long and we didn’t get the results in the beginning, and now we’re starting to figure it out and keep it going.”
CLASS D FINAL
BROOKFIELD 40, COPENHAGEN 36
Copenhagen displayed the resiliency of a champion in the Section 3 Class D title game but couldn’t complete the riveting comeback bid to defend its title.
Top-seeded and undefeated Brookfield claimed the first sectional championship in program history by holding off No. 3 Copenhagen at Allyn Hall Gymnasium at OCC.
The Golden Knights trailed by as much as 17 in the third quarter and came charging back to get within two possessions midway through the fourth, but the Beavers regrouped to fend off the rally.
Copenhagen ended the campaign with a 20-3 overall record and played in the sectional final for the fourth time in seven years after capturing the title last season.
“I’m proud that they didn’t give up but the first half was awful slow for us and that really set us back,” said Natalie Scott, who finished her 17th season as Copenhagen varsity coach. “They had to fight to get back into it and it was just a little too late at that point.”
Brookfield (23-0) advanced to its first state playoff to face Section 10 champion Hammond (23-3) in a quarterfinal matchup slated for 3:45 p.m. next Saturday at OCC’s SRC Arena.
Senior Marissa Kupris scored 14 points and junior forward Jaelyn Vleer-Elliot added 12, including a 6-for-8 mark at the free throw line to help the Beavers maintain their advantage down the stretch.
“I was always nervous but just kept my composure, I have confidence in myself and just did what I could for the team,” said Vleer-Elliot, who was named Most Valuable Player of the Class D sectional tournament afterward.
The Beavers appeared to be cruising toward their first title when they built a 30-13 advantage midway through the third quarter. But Copenhagen refused to go away quietly, engineering a 16-5 run to trim its deficit to six points, 35-29, with about five minutes left.
Soon after dropping back into a 10-point hole, Copenhagen freshman Aubree Smykla hit a 3-pointer then made a layup to finish a fast break on the next possession to trim the Brookfield edge to 39-34 with 1:20 remaining.
Following a Brookfield free throw, Copenhagen sophomore forward Raegan Dalrymple scored inside with 11 seconds left to trim the deficit to 40-36. Copenhagen then came up with a quick steal on the ensuing inbound pass but was unable to knock down another shot before time expired.
“We just had trust in each other,” Brookfield guard Jenna Bugbee said. “We knew where we had to be and moved the ball like we know how to do.”
Smykla scored 10 points to lead Copenhagen, Dalrymple contributed nine points and four blocks, and fellow sophomore forward Charli Carroll added seven points.
The Golden Knights committed a combined 13 turnovers in the second and third quarters and shot just 4-for-22 in the first half to fall into the double-digit deficit. Brookfield handled Copenhagen’s usually potent press early and found easy buckets inside, riding a 27-5 run that spanned from the late first to mid-third quarters to compile the large advantage.
“I think our defense wasn’t quite as focused as it has been, and I think the mind-set was a little unfocused coming in,” Scott said. “They weren’t ready for the strength and height and moves to the basket that (Brookfield) made. I think maybe we might have taken them a little bit too lightly, watching them play before, and didn’t realize that when you get on the court, it’s a little bit different than watching them from up above.”
The Golden Knights entered averaging 65 points per game — the second-most among all Section 3 girls teams, according to the league’s stats website — and won each of its first two sectional games by 35 points or more. They ended their season in the Class D final for the fourth time since 2014 and have reached at least the semifinals in six of the last seven years.
“We had a great season, and I’m so proud of these girls,” Scott said. “They work hard in school, they’re funny, they’re everything, and as a coach, they’re really a coach’s dream. I don’t have any complaints.”