Mar 01, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Leslie Ahern picked up something when her Jordan-Elbridge girls basketball team suffered a pair of defeats to Westhill earlier this season.
Both times, the Eagles’ man-to-man defense was inadequate to contain the Warriors, and now a third meeting loomed – in Monday’s Section III Class B semifinals at Chittenango High School.
With a lot of time to practice (10 days, due to an elongated schedule and a winter snowstorm), J-E worked on a 2-3 zone defense, something it hadn’t tried much against any opponent, much less Westhill.
That zone worked – as did many other things as the Eagles dominated the Warriors in a 51-30 romp.
A large and loud J-E contingent cheered from beginning to end as the Eagles earned a trip to Saturday’s Class B title game against South Jefferson at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to establish itself, using a series of steals in the first quarter to ease out of a sluggish offensive start.
“We realized that, with the zone, they (Westhill) didn’t know what to do,” Ahern said.
Kali Davis had six points in a 10-2 run that pushed J-E ahead for good, but that was just the appetizer for greater success later on.
Molly Hourigan, who had back-to-back triple doubles in playoff wins over Watertown IHC and Sherburne-Earlville, served as the pivot point in the zone, blocking shots as she and her teammates completely smothered Westhill on the boards from start to finish.
Hourigan also had eight points in the second quarter, helping J-E expand its lead to 24-16, but it was the third quarter that left the Warriors far behind.
A combination of Westhill’s cold shooting and its inability to get second shots resulted in a drought where it went more than 10 minutes without a field goal.
In that time, the Eagles went on a 21-1 run, with Davis, Hourigan and Kelsey Richardson (six points in the third quarter) providing most of the offense as the Eagles got away.
When things ended, Hourigan had 17 points, plus 19 rebounds and seven blocks. Davis had 13 points and Richardson added eight points. Emily Haggerty and Kayla Stirpe led Westhill (17-3) with 10 points apiece.
Now the Eagles (16-5) draw South Jefferson, at 20-0 the state’s top-ranked team. After a close call in the quarterfinals (36-33 over Cazenovia), the Spartans crushed Clinton 60-25 in the semifinals.
In this final, attention will go inside, where Hourigan is sure to deal with South Jefferson’s top scorer, Maddy Wetterhahn. Both teams have first-rate defenses, so every basket might be important.
J-E is trying to end a 24-year sectional championship drought. Its last title came in 1986, when the Eagles were still in the Class C-1 ranks.