POTSDAM — Gouverneur Central Coach Sean Devin says that one of his team’s best attributes was the reason that the Wildcats could transform a 20-14 halftime defict into a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and then answer a Hammond comeback to gain a 35-33 win in the Section 10 Girls Basketball Overall Championship game on Friday at SUNY Potsdam.
“These girls just don’t like to lose” said Coach Devin after his Class B Champion Lady Wildcats lifted their record to 22-1 and handed Hammond its first loss aftert 18 straight wins.
“And they listen. And I listen to them. During the games one of the girls on the bench will talk to me about something we could do and I consider it. The winning bucket came off a variation of a designed play”
Friday’s game was secured in a dramatic finish where Hammond’s Landree Kenyon neatly made two free throws for a 33-33 tie with 10.7 seconds to play. Elizabeth Ruitta countered by muscling home the game-winning basket t while being fouled on in-bounds play with one second to play.
“On the final basket the ball was supposed to go to Lia Canell but there were two players on her. Chloe (Smith) found me was a pass and I just went up strong and scored,” said Riutta.
“To score the winning basket in the league championship game as a senior is amazing. It will definitely be one of my best basketball memories.”
But the Red Devils came very close to trumping the memory with a near miraculous finish.
Inbounding the ball with .7 of a second left they got off a three from near the SUNY Potsdam logo which bounded off the rim .
Going up strong is a way of life on the court for Riutta who used the ability to snatch a rebound out of an opponents’ hands in the third quarter turnabout where she scored six of her team-high 12 points. Merdith Bush tallied 11 points with three 3s in the second half where the Wildcats used tenacious on the ball defense to limit the Red Devils to 13 points. Addy Conklin and Lia Canell tallied four points apiece and Chloe Smith Courtney Forsythe each added two.
“This game was good for us going into the states because it was a tough loss and a close game,” said Hammond Coach Alyssa Crosby after the game where her Class D Champions showed its defensive prowess limiting Gouverneur to just 7 points in the first, second and third quarters.
“It showed us that we have to rebound the ball much better. Gouverneur did a very good job on the boards.”
NAC West Division MVP Landree Kenyon ignited Hammond’as last ditch rally hitting three jump shots and four of five free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 16 points. Ava Howie scored eight points for the Devils, Sadey Sprabary tallied six and Hailey Manning added three.
Sprabary netted two interior shots to spark Hammond to a 20-11 lead in the closing stage of the first half.
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