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Tioga County Sports Report
NEWARK VALLEY — The Newark Valley girls basketball team survived a late scare from Waverly in the Section IV Class B semifinals Wednesday evening to post a 53-47 victory.

The Wolverines would climb out of a 17-point hole to briefly take the lead on the strength of an 18-point third quarter surge.

“We had a pretty good-sized hole there that we had to dig out of and we knew what we had to do in the second half, and we came out and we executed that,” Waverly coach Bob Kelly said. “A lot of heart. A lot of heart they showed, and pretty proud of them.”

“They didn't go away,” said NV coach Greg Schweiger. “They're Waverly, and I have so much respect for their coaches, and their team and their players. You knew what was going to happen. We knew what was going to happen even when we had a nice hot start. We knew the game was far from over, but it's one thing to tell yourself that, and it's one thing to execute and we didn't execute in the third quarter, and they did. They had a fantastic third quarter and made it a battle down the stretch.

“They came out third quarter and it didn’t seem like they missed a shot,” Schweiger said. “The third quarter, Kennedy Westbrook happened and she showed up in that third after we kept her quiet in the first half. Hats off to them. That was a hell of a second half.”

The senior standout pumped out 10 points in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Peyton Shaw and Addison Westbrook added one trey each.

The four 3-balls were consecutive baskets, capped by Kennedy Westbrook’s close-to-half-court bomb at the buzzer.

The start of the third quarter appeared to catch NV a little off-guard.

“If you saw our shooting percentage in the first half, I don't blame them,” Kelly said. “We needed to put the shots in and once we started doing it, the energy picks up, a little confidence gets going again, and it gets contagious. When shots start going in, you start seeing it. They're taking it and they're taking good shots, and it was nice to see.”

“Starting the quarter, I think they had six or eight straight points and so we're kind of looking around like, what's going on?,” said Schweiger. “I thought this game was over and it wasn't, but super proud.”

Still clinging to the lead, 36-33, the Cardinals countered with a bucket from Kalyna Graham and a trey by Cha Gardner to push the lead to 41-33.

Waverly bounced right back, however, as the Westbrooks and Ryleigh Judson scored back-to-back-to-back field goals to cut the lead to 42-41.

A Peyton Shaw 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining gave the Wolverines their first and only lead of the contest, 44-43.

Waverly was unable to hold off NV as Adrianna Finta’s bucket put the Cardinal back on top, 45-44 with just over two minutes to go.

After Gardner missed an opportunity to finish off a conventional 3-point play, the Cardinals sank six straight free throws in the final 61 seconds, and gave up just one foul shot point to Waverly.

“(They) made it a two possession game and forced them into desperation mode, so that was certainly key,” Schweiger said. “This is a group that, last year, we kind of expected to be here. This year, they did it. They did it and I couldn't be prouder of this group. Just really proud of them. It's just amazing.

“I'm proud of our fourth quarter, gritty, made foul shots, made better decisions, slowed the game down a little bit, worked the ball inside. All night long, rebound the basketball in the defensive end, rebound the basketball, because that was the key to ending in the possession and not giving them extra shots.”

Kennedy Westbrook converted a conventional 3-point play with 16.5 seconds left, but the Wolverines would miss their final two shots.

“We didn't want it to end,” Kelly said. “We just came out, we had basically nothing to lose and we just gave them a battle. Something that I thought we did two previous times we left it all on the floor, and that's all you can ask from your team.”

NV looked like it would control the momentum from the onset as Hayley Beebe and Gardner wrapped treys around a Kalyna Graham basket for an 8-0 advantage with just over three minutes off the clock.

The Wolverines clawed their way back to make it 9-7 on a Kennedy Westbrook bucket, a pair of free throws by Addison Westbrook and a Shaw 3-ball.

Beebe would end the quarter with another three, sparking a 15-point run which was highlighted by two more Gardner treys.

“We started getting momentum,” Schweiger said. “I think the game's fun when your shots go in and we were hitting threes. Cha was hitting threes, Hayley was hitting threes and I thought we played with good tempo, and we were beating them up the court and getting some easy ones, which I think was key in a game like this.

“You need easy buckets because in the half-court offenses, we both know what the other team's doing so well and we both play really good defense half-court, so there's nothing easy. Any time you can get some easy buckets, that, I think is how we extended our lead in that first half.”

The final three minutes of the half featured another Beebe 3-pointer as well as two Addison Westbrook treys, making it a 28-15 game in NV’s favor at the break.

The Wolverines regrouped during the intermission as Kennedy Westbrook knocked down a pair of baskets and Shaw connected for a pair of free throws to start off the third quarter. They held NV to eight points in the period while mixing in those four treys.

Kennedy Westbrook finished with a team-high 17 points while Shaw and Addison Westbrook chipped in with 13 apiece. Judson and Paige Robinson tacked on two points apiece.

Gardner recorded her second triple-double of the season with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, and she also handed out five assists. Beebe ended her night with a game-high 18 points and went 7-for-8 at the stripe. She also had two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kalyna Graham scored six points pulled down eight boards and dished out two assists. Jasmine Graham had five points, 11 rebounds and three steals; Finta added four and Aubrey Kwiatkowski chipped in with two.

Waverly finished the season with a 16-5 record.

“We're young and we have to get better,” Kelly said. “We have work to do and we have to get better. We're losing one of those really good ones (Kennedy Westbrook). And the other one (Alyvia Daddonna) has been in the program for our years herself and she's a role player, does a great job for us. Missing those two is going to be a huge loss.

“Our young group, our JV team, was very young, so I think the future looks pretty good, but we have to put the work in to get better for sure.”

Newark Valley (21-0) will face Chenango Forks (16-5) for the championship Sunday at noon at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.


IN PHOTO 1: NV’s Jasmine Graham. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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