Margaretville girls advance to championship; Andes posts first win of the season

By Julia Green
Downsville 43, Andes 31 (Dec. 10)
Point guard Mariah Ruff scored 14 points for the host Mountaineers and Karli Tait added nine rebounds and four steals when Andes played host to the Downsville Eagles last Wednesday.
“I thought we did OK early,” said Head Coach Jeff Rhone. “I thought we defended them fairly well in the first half and then in the course of the game we couldn’t stay with them. They were pretty athletic and we just didn’t defend well at all in the second half and especially in the third quarter. And they totally out-rebounded us.”
The Eagles outscored the Mountaineers 18-9 in the first half, including a 14-3 run in the second quarter.
Rhone added that defense was a key obstacle for his squad, referring to that aspect of the game as “still a weakness” for his young squad.
The Andes girls showed some resolve in the fourth quarter, however, matching Downsville’s 15 points and more than doubling their second-highest quarter total, which was the seven points scored in the third period.
“I thought our first quarter was probably our strongest, but the third quarter they really controlled the game,” Rhone said.

Stamford 27, Margaretville 34 (Dec. 10)
It was visiting Stamford who dealt the first blow in last Wednesday’s showdown at MCS, when Marlana Hinkley opened up the scoring by sinking a three-point field goal for the Indians.
“It started out well for a home opener,” said MCS Head Coach Kyle Holden. “We had a 24-11 lead at halftime, so I was pleased with the way we were moving the ball around.”
That movement was evident in the balance of scoring; four of Holden’s players tallied at least four points apiece in the first quarter, during which the Blue Devils outscored the visiting Indians 14-7. Margaretville continued the trend in the third quarter, scoring only seven points but holding Stamford to only four to grow to a 31-15 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“That’s when the wheels kind of came off for us,” Holden said. “That was the first time when we really needed to work on finishing off a game, playing with a lead; it kind of put a spotlight on some things we needed to work on.”
The Blue Devils only scored three points to Stamford’s 12, most of which came from the foul line due to what Holden referred to as his team’s being “overly aggressive,” and committing some “stupid fouls.”
“Another five minutes they probably would have had us,” Holden acknowledged of the momentum shift.
The Blue Devil defense did an effective job of collapsing on Sommers Gaddis, who has been a key scorer for Stamford so far this season.
Michelle O’Reilly tallied nine points and eight rebounds for the Blue Devils, while Brandi Balcom added eight points and Casey Hubbell and Erica Faulkner each tallied seven.

Margaretville 44, Andes 30 (Dec. 13)
The Blue Devils did a better job of working the ball inside when they faced the visiting Mountaineers of Andes Central School in the first game of the Second Annual MCS Booster Club Tournament on Saturday.
“Those were some of the better looks inside that we’ve had, and that’s something which, for us to make a living this year, we’re going to have to get the ball inside,” Holden said. “And we rebounded well.”
Andes Head Coach Jeff Rhone was in agreement with that assessment.
“Once again, I feel like we didn’t rebound well, and I felt like a lot of the points they scored were on second or third opportunities, or they were wide open looks and nobody was running at them with a hand up.”
The Blue Devils held a four-point lead at halftime but increased the gap to 11 points after a 15-8 stretch in the third quarter. MCS post player Michelle O’Reilly went down with a knee injury with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter and replacement Sara Batka tallied six points for the Blue Devils.
“Andes moved the ball well,” Holden said. “Our pressure really didn’t bother them that much; they stayed composed and moved the ball around and kept coming after us. They had nice balanced scoring, too.”
The Mountaineers were led by Karli Tait with eight points and six apiece from Mariah Ruff and Rachel Andrews, who also left the game with an injury.
Rhone said he felt that his squad moved the ball well on offense, especially early in the game, and that their shot selection was also good early on, adding that he was impressed with Margaretville’s press.
“They did a really nice job,” he said. “They extended their defense to the half court and they really pressured our guards and I thought the timing of that was done very well. I thought they did a nice job against our zone.”

Andes 51, Gilboa 33 (Dec. 15)
Led by Mariah Ruff with 18 points, the Andes Central School Mountaineers posted their first win over the Gilboa Wildcats at Gilboa on Monday night. Rachel Andrews added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Andes.
“Tonight we played better,” Rhone said after the game. “We defended better than we have. The girls definitely were more aggressive and they were very active about pursuing loose balls, and that’s something we’ve talked about. Tonight they responded; they came ready to play and played hard and it showed.”
Andes took an early lead in the first quarter, tallying 12 points to Gilboa’s six, and widened the lead in the second quarter with 20 more points while holding the Wildcats to nine. In 83 possessions, including trips to the foul line, the Andes girls scored field goals on 20 possessions and reinforced their field shooting efforts from the free throw line, going 11-15 from the foul line.
Rhone noticed a marked improvement in his team’s rebounding efforts Monday night, and was pleased with the intensity with which his players went after loose balls.
“We had a number of possessions where we didn’t get a good shot or we turned the ball over,” he said. “We had a lot of wasted possessions tonight, but I feel like the girls had more possessions because of their aggressiveness.”
Looking forward to the second game of the MCS Tournament this weekend, Rhone anticipated that rebounding will be a key factor for both teams. The Mountaineers will face Hancock in the consolation game at 3:30 p.m.
“They go after everything,” Rhone said of the Hancock team. “That’s what keeps them in games. If there’s a loose ball, they’re going to wrestle over it.
“At this point, I’ve just got to get my girls to the point where they play hard every night and then we can think about game plans.”

Margaretville 37, Hunter 39 (Dec. 15)
It was a battle from start to finish when the Margaretville girls traveled to Hunter-Tannersville on Monday night to face the host Wildcats, and despite Margaretville leading at the end of each of the first three quarters, the Blue Devils were unable to hold on for the win.
After a 10-5 first quarter, the second quarter was all but even, with the Margaretville girls tallying 12 points to Hunter’s 11. The Blue Devils suffered a blow, however, when leader Brandi Balcom went down with a sprained ankle shortly before halftime.
“Losing Brandi was a momentum shift, definitely,” Holden said after the game. “We were able to work the ball inside and things were looking quite positive for us up to that point. Then she went down and we put a lot of stress on the rest of the girls; they didn’t back down, they responded well, and we had a nice balance scoring, but boy that hurt us.
“We played really solid defense,” he added. “We tried to control the inside as much as we could; they did well, we fronted the post well, we put a hand in shooters’ faces consistently, and we had some pretty good ball pressure with Sara [Batka] getting six steals and Casey [Hubbell] getting five. We composed ourselves much better tonight and held on to the ball well. We almost got a little bit too aggressive at times, which got us into foul trouble.”
The Blue Devils continued to battle in the third quarter, finishing the period with a three-point lead, but with Balcom and O’Reilly out with injuries and Amanda Drizing fouling out in the third quarter and Erica Faulkner fouling out in the fourth, the MCS girls were down to five players.
Despite continuing to battle, Hunter outscored Margaretville 16-11 in the final quarter to clinch the game with a two-point margin.
“I was proud of the way the girls finished,” Holden said. “They competed to the very end. It was a very positive game tonight. They felt good afterward, everybody contributed and that’s what we need to be successful.”
Faulkner led the Blue Devils with 11 points, including a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter to keep MCS within striking distance. Brittney Hull added eight for MCS while Casey Hubbell added seven. Batka led the Blue Devils in rebounds with 13, followed by Faulkner with eight.
Note: The Roxbury girls’ only scheduled game this week, Friday at South Kortright, was postponed due to weather and has yet to be rescheduled. The Roxbury girls faced Jefferson yesterday with no result available at press time; their next game is Friday, Dec. 19 at Gilboa.

Second Annual MCS Booster Club Tournament - photo by Julia GreenSecond Annual MCS Booster Club Tournament - photo by Julia Green