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Tioga County Sports Report
WAVERLY — The fifth-seeded Owego girls basketball team hung with No. 4 Waverly for the better part of three periods before the Wolverines pulled away late for a 58-42 victory in the Section IV Class B quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.

Waverly rode three short spurts to a 28-17 lead with a little over five minutes remaining in the first half, but the Indians countered by closing out the first half on an 8-3 run, making it a 31-25 contest at the break.

The Wolverines opened the third quarter with back-to-back baskets by Kennedy and Addison Westbrook, but a bucket by Cassie Doane and two more from Ava Brown, chopped the lead to 35-31.

Peyton Shaw and Madison McEvoy traded 3-pointers and Waverly managed to hang on to a 38-34 lead with 2:51 to go in the third.

That’s when the Wolverines, behind solid defense and some key baskets, finally swung the momentum in their own favor.

“We played a little better defense in the second half, but made some shots too, which helped us, kind of gave us some spark, a little bit of energy,” Waverly coach Bob Kelly said. “The layoff was definitely evident tonight, so it was good to get going again.

“We knew it was going to be a battle. We always play tough games, and it's sectionals, so we’ve got to be ready to play. I think we answered it.”

“That was the talk coming in, obviously, take care of the basketball,” Owego coach Luke McEvoy said. “I thought first half we did a great job of finding shooters, and they've got plenty of them scattered about. They knocked down shots late in the third and we couldn't bounce back from that little yo-yo action. They'd kind of blow up the lead and then we'd shrink it and then they'd get it just a little bit too far away from us.”

Shaw tacked on a basket and a trey during the next 1:24 to push the advantage to 43-34 then, following a Brown free throw, Addison Westbrook converted a steal and layup to make the score 45-35 heading into the final frame.

The Wolverines expanded the lead to 51-35 in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter on a Shaw bucket, and Addison Westbrook’s two free throws, and steal and layup.

“Then at the end I think we ran out of gas,” coach McEvoy said. It's been a long week of sicknesses and some other things, and we had a few players who weren't here, and shortened our bench a little bit tonight in the fourth quarter.

“Once the lead got to that point, it's hard to get the mind over that deficit and really push forward, but the girls battled all night and I couldn't ask for anything more.”

Brown responded with a pair of free throws, Kennedy Westbrook drained a 3-ball, Maddie Bennett countered with a foul shot, Shaw canned her fourth trey of the day and Kennedy Westbrook hit a free throw, giving Waverly its biggest lead of the game at 58-38 with 2:26 to go.

“She knocked in a handful of shots tonight, which was big for them, obviously, as we're focused on some of their more prominent shooters from the season,” coach McEvoy said of Shaw.

The game opened with Doane scoring in the paint just under a minute after the tip-off, followed by Shaw’s initial trey 17 seconds later and a Kennedy Westbrook field goal 30 seconds after that.

After Doane scored again and the teams exchanged one free apiece, Page Robinson scored a basket and Shaw converted a traditional 3-point play for the Wolverines second 5-point spurt and an 11-5 lead.

Lexi Herceg and Maddie Bennett wrapped baskets around a Kennedy Westbrook 3-pointer, then the teams scored three points each over the final 100 seconds of the period to make it 17-12 in Waverly’s favor heading into the second quarter.

A notable difference in the game was the number of 3-balls made.

The Wolverines took several more attempts than Owego, but came away with eight treys, four by Shaw, three from Kenndy Westbrook and another by Addison Westbrook. Owego made just one shot from downtown, that coming from McEvoy late in the third quarter.

“We did struggle a little bit from outside, but we also thought going into tonight that we'd have an advantage inside and I thought the two girls did a great job inside for us tonight,” coach McEvoy said. “Doane and Brown really stepped up and provided that lift early on for us.”

Shaw led all scorers with 21 points, Kennedy Westbrook chipped in with 19 and Addison Westbroook added 14 more.

“She had a lot of good shots today,” Kelly said of Shaw. “She had four threes tonight and had a career high in points too, which was nice to see. Her shots were timely and they were important.

“Addie played very solid for us, a complete game, especially when Kennedy was on the bench. Addie did some really good things for us that we needed. And defensively, she's pretty sneaky.

“Olivia Dadonna came in and I thought she gave us some solid minutes, because we got in a little foul trouble. Her 3 or 3 ½ minutes, whatever it was, I thought she did a nice job.

“Riley Judson gave us some good minutes off the bench as well, which she's been doing all year, and so that's important. We need them to step in and give us minutes when we need them.”

Brown paced the Indians’ effort with 17 points, which McEvoys believes is a career high for the junior.

“I didn't know that she had that much, but I think to get that high and double digits, again, and we talked about it all week, that that would be an opportunity for the two of them and a couple other people to finish around the basket and provide that spark.

“And then, if we could have hit a few more shots from the outside, maybe it's a game late in the fourth, but they pulled just far enough away and now we're done after a great season.”

Doane scored nine points, Bennett recorded eight, and Herceg and Madison McEvoy tacked on four apiece.

Owego finishes the season at 12-9 after starting out with a pair of home setbacks.

“We turned things around, bouncing back from only four wins last year where we competed, but we struggled,” coach McEvoy said. “We were in every single game this year. This might actually be probably our biggest loss, I think, point-wise. I can't even remember what the differential was, but every other game,wins and losses, they were right there.”

Waverly (16-4) visits top-seeded Newark Valley (20-0) Wednesday for a 6 p.m. semifinal. The Cardinals are currently ranked second in the state.

Kelly was vague about the game plan against NV, who won both regular season meetings.

“Well, we'll see,” he said. “We anticipate a battle and we know each other very well, and we've had two pretty good games previously. I expect this one to be a battle again. We have nothing to lose. They're expected to beat us and we're going to get after it.”



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