SK girls advance in state tourney

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By John Bernhardt
The template remained the same Saturday at Herkimer College as the South Kortright Rams girls’ basketball team outlasted Section III champion Oriskany, 47-38, to reach the New York State semifinals for the second season in a row.

A combination of balanced scoring, clutch foul shooting, strong rebounding, and stingy defense lifted the Rams to another regional championship. South Kortright, New York State’s top ranked Class D girl’s team, improved their record to 22-0.

Oriskany had SK well scouted, hoping a zone defense that doubled down on SK scoring leader Robyn Ward would stop the Rams. The defensive strategy slowed down Ward, but left her teammates with open looks and SK capitalized.

The Rams knocked down five shots from behind the three-point arc, the heart of an outside shooting barrage that proved too much for the Section III champs. Junior Kayla Craft and eighth grader Tori Rockefeller each nailed two of the long-range field goals. Brittany Northrup had the final SK three-pointer.

The game was close throughout. Oriskany held brief leads in the first and third quarters, taking a 31-30 lead with 2:40 to play in the third period when Megan Carlo nailed a lay-up score. But each, time Oriskany challenged SK countered. Ward answered with a lay-up of her own in SK’s next possession, and Northrup hit an outside shot to put SK in front, 34-31, as time ran out in the third period.

The clutch shooting Craft, hit the first of her two fourth-period bombs just seconds into the final quarter. After Northrup added another outside shot, SK had stretched their lead to 39-31.
Oriskany didn’t quit. Shannon VanShufflin’s three pointer and two Carlo fouls shots narrowed the gap to just three points with 2:37 to play.

It was the second Craft long-range bomb one minute later that sealed Oriskany’s fate. Oriskany resorted to using fouls to stop the clock during the final minute, but SK went 5 of 8 from the line down the stretch.

Carlo was the only Oriskany player to reach double figures taking game high scoring honors with 16 points.

Northrup netted 15 points to pace a balanced SK attack. Craft and Ward both registered double-doubles. Craft scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds with Ward hitting 11 points and hauling in 11 rebounds.

The SK win sets up The Battle of the Unbeatens. Next up for the Rams is Section V champion Elba (23-0). That contest will take place Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Section II’s Argyle (21-3) and Section IX’s Livingston Manor square off in the other semi-final match.