Mar 01, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Now the Corcoran girls basketball is right where it wants to be, poised to go after the opponent it wants to beat the most, with a Section III Class AA championship on the line.
The no. 3 seed Cougars will clash with top seed and defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse for the title Saturday at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Corcoran is trying to reclaim the crown it won back in 2008.
Getting there required the Cougars to oust no. 2 seed Christian Brothers Academy last Saturday in the AA semifinals at Liverpool High School. With the game in serious doubt, Corcoran surged late in the third quarter, which made the difference in a 67-55 win over the Brothers.
CBA was 18-1, though it played most of its schedule against Class A foes in the OHSL Freedom division, and it featured Marist University-bound senior Leanne Ockenden, a sharp-shooting guard who was the school’s all-time leading scorer.
To defend Ockenden, Corcoran head coach Jim Marsh planted 5-11 senior Ayana Bradley on her. With her long reach and relentless effort, Bradley would hold Ockenden to a single 3-pointer and 11 points overall, far below her season average.
Meanwhile, CBA, like many previous Corcoran opponents, would rely on a zone defense to try and take away the Cougars’ imposing group of forwards.
The 2-3 zone did work for quite a while, as the Brothers out-rebounded Corcoran in the first half. Still, the Cougars took some advantage of the outside space, hitting on four 3-pointers and leading much of the way.
Six times in the third quarter, the lead changed hands, but it was that last lead change, and its aftermath, that would propel Corcoran toward the finals.
With her team trailing 34-33, point guard Coriesha Hickey hit a 3-pointer, her third of the game. Then, to close the period, the Cougars earned 10 unanswered points, all in less than two minutes, as a pair of baskets came off missed free throws.
That run continued into the fourth quarter, a 17-2 push that gave the Cougars a 51-36 lead. CBA, led by Ellen Voorheis and her 20 points, would pull back within six, 59-53, late in the game, but would draw no closer.
Hickey took full advantage of all the attention CBA gave to the forwards, finishing with 23 points, plus five rebounds and three steals.
“She needs to play that kind of level for us to win,” Marsh said. “We want the ball in her hands. She can create her own shot as well as anyone I’ve coached.”
Nadia Jackson earned 12 points, while Carrie Blunt (eight points) and Zephrah Pam (seven points) each picked up 11 rebounds despite the zone. Erin Kenney came off the bench to earn seven points.
This leads Corcoran back to CNS, the team it lost to, 49-43, back on Feb. 5, its lone defeat of the season. The Northstars beat Fayetteville-Manlius 55-41 in the other AA semifinal.
Hickey, Jackson and Bradley work against a Northstars backcourt that includes Kelsey Mattice, Brittney Fedele and Abbey Timpano, and both can defend well.
But the real battle lies inside, as Blunt and Pam try to contain CNS’s highly-touted sophomore, Breanna Stewart, and fellow forward Brittany Paul. The game could pivot on which side establishes its presence in the paint first.
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