Peterson leads Hamilton to playoff win

Maybe the mantra for the Hamilton girls basketball team is a simple one -- as long as Jordan Peterson can produce lots of offense, it's got a chance to claim the Section III Class D title.

Denied as an unbeaten team by Sackets Harbor in last year's title game, the Emerald Knights entered the 2010 version of the sectional tournament as a no. 7 seed, immediately thrust into a tough quarterfinal Friday night against no. 2 seed Oriskany.

Not only that, Hamilton fell behind early in this game -- but a defensive shift, combined with Peterson's unstoppable presence, turned things around and produced a 49-41 victory over the Redskins.

The two sides had split their regular-season meetings. Oriskany won the first time on Dec. 8, but Hamilton won big in the rematch Jan. 23, a 57-30 romp that came at a time when the Redskins were unbeaten and no. 5 in the state Class D rankings.

Remembering what happened there, Oriskany roared out to a 15-8 first-quarter lead. Running right through the Emerald Knights' full-court press, The Redskins got easy baskets, four of them from Christina Graziadai.

Quickly, Hamilton head coach Jessica Poole abandoned the press and put two defenders on Graziadai. That really worked, as the Redskins got shut down in the second period and the Emerald Knights, using a 15-5 run, took the lead for good.

That margin stretched to 38-30 by the fourth quarter, and Peterson had much to do with it. Despite all of Oriskany's attempts to contain her, and despite nine missed free throws, Peterson still came up with 27 points and 12 rebounds, working from the perimeter to draw out Redskin defenders and hit a pair of 3-pointers.

Sufficient help for Peterson was there, too, as Jenna Whyatt fought her way to eight points and Katie Weeks finished with seven points. Graziadai led Oriskany with 18 points, but was never again the big force she was early.

Hamilton will face no. 5 seed Rome Catholic in the Class D semifinals Friday at 7 p.m. at Whitesboro High School after the Red Wings beat Copenhagen 46-44 on Saturday. The winner gets New York Mills or Sackets Harbor in the March 6 finals at Utica Memorial Auditorium.

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